With all of the new cellular standards and acronyms, I have been in the dark about a couple of things. Specifically, HSDPA and UMTS. If you don’t know what these are and don’t care to learn about them, you will probably want to stop reading now. :) I know that these are both high(er) speed wireless communications protocols. That was the easy part. I also know that they are both faster than EDGE, a protocol that I have frequently used with cellphones in times of broadband outage.
Now this question isn’t something that I have been really racking my brain on. It’s just been a curiousity lingering in the back of my mind that surfaces whenever I read about the fancy new phones that are becoming available. It seemed to me that the two acronyms were often loosely interchanged. And without digging around to find the differences, I was beginning to think that they were the same thing.
Finally, I posed a question to a couple of fellow Engadget Mobile readers tonight. And as I typically do, I hammered it out and clicked submit before even thinking about doing a tiny bit of research.
So, within five minutes, I found myself on Wikipedia reading about all of the gory details of HSDPA, or High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. I found that I already knew some of this information, such as the fact that the protocol supports downlink speeds of up to 14.4 Mbit/s. (Wow!)
The real benefit for me from the Wikipedia article on HSDPA was mostly in the first paragraph:
HSDPA provides a smooth evolutionary path for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks allowing for higher data capacity. It is an evolution of the W-CDMA standard, designed to increase the available data rate by a factor of 5 or more. HSDPA defines a new W-CDMA channel, the high-speed downlink shared channel (HS-DSCH) that operates in a different way from existing W-CDMA channels, but is only used for downlink communication to the mobile.Whew! In addition to the above, the UMTS page on Wikipedia says that UMTS “uses W-CDMA as the underlying standard.” Ok, so I’m seeing this as a progression: WCDMA→UMTS→HSDPA. The newer standards are evolutions of the older standards, using and expanding upon previous protocols. Elsewhere, I confirmed the following:
HSDPA is compatible with EDGE and is fully backwards compatible with WCDMA, and enterprise and rich multimedia applications developed for WCDMA will work with HSDPA. Most UMTS vendors support HSDPA.So here are my conclusions:
Wi-Fi Networking News, always a trusted source for news about wireless networking, released two interesting bits of news last week.
First, GigaBeam is planning multi-gigabit wireless networking in Lower Manhattan. They are calling this “virtual fiber”. It will be using point-to-point technology operating in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz ranges. No prices have been announced yet, but I sure would love to have something like this in my apartment.
And second, an update on the progress of 802.11n. The short of this is that we should expect to see 802.11n devices by mid-2006. For those of you not familiar with 802.11n, this is the next generation in wireless networking, promising real throughput of at least 100Mbps.
Exciting things are happening in the wireless world. Within a couple of years, it will be a totally different landscape.
If you know of any others that are missing from this list, please feel free to contribute.
After about three years of using T-Mobile’s Hotspot service, I finally cancelled my account for good in April. I’ll be using the wonderful free service that’s available here in Austin for all of my local wireless needs. Finally, my favorite coffee shop has wireless, so I can stop supporting T-Mobile and Starbucks.
The cancellation of my T-Mobile account was not without frustration on my end and sneakiness on the part of T-Mobile, however. It started with the mention of a cancellation fee. The phone rep said, “You have completed your one year agreement, so there is no cancellation fee.” One year agreement? I never saw any agreement whatsoever. In fact, when T-Mobile bought out Mobilestar, I merely saw a different SSID at Starbucks and a different name on my credit card statement. Apparently T-Mobile had put me on a one year contract without my knowledge. Not good.
Since I had been using the unlimited T-Mobile service for 24 months, there was not really an issue with the contract. Had there been a fee charged, I would have been very angry. They got lucky with this one.
It was the billing, however, that was a problem. I was last billed for my monthly service on April 16. That was four days prior to my cancellation. When I asked the phone rep whether the account would be cancelled immediately, he said that it would. I then asked when I could expect to see the remaining part of my money refunded, and he responded with, “There is no proration. We have cancelled your account, and there is no money to refund.” So T-Mobile has decided that it wants to steal 26 days of service from me. That’s just not right.
If you’re thinking about signing up with T-Mobile’s monthly hotspot plan, think again. This is the most anti-customer organization I have dealt with in a long time.
John Battelle found an interesting service for tracking popular keywords: Wordtracker. Add this to the Lycos 50, the Yahoo! Buzz Index, and the famous Google Zeitgeist, and you have an excellent set of keyword lists for search optimization. A list of the highest priced AdWords keywords would really make this set complete.
In his most recent rant about IE, Dave Shea dropped a nice link to a thorough list of bugs in Internet Explorer. I’m sure there are probably other IE buglists out there, but this one gives examples and workarounds! This list should be very helpful in getting Full Speed looking better in IE.
Microsoft has just released a large bundle of wireless patches for XP. The patches fix a lot of bugs (no surprise there) and also add support for WPA. If you’re a wireless XP user, you’ll certainly want to download the patches.
I think I’ve found the phone for me. It’s the xda II Pocket PC phone. No external antenna. Interchangable battery. Built-in camera! See the link for a ton of great photos.
This thing might get me one step closer to finding a small device that addresses all of my connectivity needs when I’m on the go.
Rob Flickenger reported today on some serious hacking that he and some Seattle Wireless buddies have been doing on the Linksys WRT54G wireless router. This router already runs Linux out of the box, but these guys are trying to get their own firmware into it so that they can extend it to run some of the NoCat projects, tunnelling, monitoring, better firewalling, and anything else that one might expect from a good, secure WLAN node.