Cingular Rolls Out First HSDPA Phone
SAN FRANCISCO -- Cingular Wireless today launched the first phone for its HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) network, tapping into its fastest technology to power the handheld entertainment services it has been offering over less advanced networks.
HSDPA was launched by Cingular late last year, but so far Cingular customers have been able to use it only on notebook PCs with PC Card or built-in modems. The network offers typical downstream speeds of 400 kilobits per second to 700 kbps, with burst speeds as high as 1 megabit per second, according to the carrier.
The availability of handsets will help Cingular subscribers use the network for consumer applications, namely the Cingular Video service, which offers news, sports, movie trailers, and clips from TV shows. Like other mobile operators, Cingular is counting on consumer enthusiasm for phone-based entertainment, along with enterprise use, to help make expensive high-speed networks pay off. The HSDPA infrastructure, now covering 18 major markets, should be available in most major markets by the end of this year, Cingular says.
The LG CU500, from LG Electronics, is a clamshell phone that includes a music player for MP3, AAC, and AAC Plus songs. It comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera with a rotating lens and video capability, as well as a MicroSD slot for storage. It supports three instant messaging services--AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN Messenger--as well as Cingular's MusicID, a service that lets users identify songs by having the phone "listen" to it.
Where HSDPA is unavailable, the phone can fall back to slower networks such as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), and EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution). It supports four spectrum bands (850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 1900 MHz), enabling the phone to work in many European and Asian countries, though not necessarily at HSDPA speeds.
Cingular's fastest handsets to date have used its nationwide EDGE network, which offers between 75 kbps and 135 kbps, spokesperson Ritch Blasi says.
The phone is available now at select stores and on Cingular's Web site for $99.99 with a two-year contract. A $50 mail-in rebate is available to customers who sign up for an unlimited Media Net plan. Cingular will probably soon launch another HSDPA phone, the Samsung ZX-20, says Blasi.
Cingular, a joint venture of AT&T and BellSouth, has been playing catch-up with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel on 3G (third-generation) offerings. Verizon and Sprint already have phones and widely deployed networks using EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized), a high-speed version of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). EvDO likewise offers average downstream speeds of 400 kbps to 700 kbps, with burst speeds of about 2 mbps.