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Next-Gen 3G Rollout To Be Slowed By Handsets, Study Says

Phones that support the newest version of the 3G cellular standard won't be available in quantity until the middle of next year, a new study predicts, even though operators want to roll out the service before then.
The next generation of 3G cellular data service, specifically HSDPA, will be delayed because handsets that support the faster service will be released later than expected, according to a study released Friday by market research firm Informa.

HSDPA is expected to deliver speeds in excess of 1Mbps. By contrast, its predecessor, UMTS, delivers typical speeds of about 300Kbps. Among U.S. carriers, Cingular has said it will roll out HSDPA next year.

John Everington, a senior research analyst for Informa, said in a statement that the problem of delayed handsets is a repeat of the problem faced by operators when 3G services first started becoming available in the last year.

"These same operators are going to endure an exact repeat of the situation when it comes to HSDPA," he said. "Despite early predictions from Samsung, LG and NEC of handsets becoming available from the end of 2005, HSDPA-enabled handsets are only likely to appear commercially in large volumes from mid-2006 onwards."

LG displayed HSDPA phones at the recent CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans, saying they'd be available by the end of the year. In addition, vendors of HSDPA add-in cards for laptops have promised to release their products before the end of the year.

While Cingular has said it plans to be the first to roll out HSDPA in the U.S. and has talked about doing that in 2006, reports have indicated it hopes to roll out the service in a few areas by the end of 2005.