MTN looks forward to 14Mbps mobile broadband

In the midst of the hype surrounding HSDPA, MTN has said that it sees speeds using its HSDPA service could reach 14Mbps in the next couple years.  ITWeb has reported as follows:

14Mbps broadband possible, says MTN


[Johannesburg, 13 April 2006] – Mobile broadband at 14Mbps downlink speed, more than 13 times faster than current ADSL speeds, could be available within the next two years.

This is according to Brian Seligmann, senior manager for data and messaging, revealing MTN’s HSDPA enhancement strategies earlier this week.

Seligmann says that although HSDPA was only rolled out last month, MTN has many plans to upgrade the network in various stages over the next two years.

“The upgrade process for HSDPA is to take downlink speeds to 3.6Mbps, then 7.2Mbps, and then to 14.4Mbps,?? he says.

He cautions that a host of factors – including backbone transmission costs and handset availability – could affect the progress of MTN’s intended HSDPA enhancements.

At the recent CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, Ericsson (MTN’s network partner) demonstrated mobile broadband at 28Mbps, he adds.

In addition to the enhanced downlink speeds, MTN aims to move uplink speeds “into the megabits per second category??. Uplink speeds could exceed 1Mbps before the end of the year and be near 6Mbps within one to two years, adds Seligmann. “Where will the technology end???

I love the “caution” that a “host of factors” could affect this move towards super fast mobile broadband.  Telecoms providers, like many companies, tend to over-promise and under-deliver just to get people onboard.  It is a bit like the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to marketing.

Even if the mobile networks manage to reach these speeds, what about the costs involved?  MTN’s out of bundle data cost is R2 per MB.  That gets pretty expensive if you transfer anything meaningful and if you find yourself with megabit connections you are also going to find your data costs go through the roof and into the stratosphere.

For this kind of bandwidth to be commercially feasible we are going to have to see significant reductions in the prices charged by the mobile networks for data transferred (we pay for data uploaded and downloaded).  Until then the promises of more and more bandwidth are promises of higher and higher bills.

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