updated 08:55 am EDT, Thu October 18, 2007
ATT HSUPA Internet Access
AT&T today began upgrading its 3G network with a significant boost to upload speeds courtesy of High Speed Uplink Packet Access, or HSUPA. An improvement on the HSDPA access already available today, the connection significantly improves download speeds to between 600Kbps and 1.4Mbps in real-world conditions but should be even faster with upstream connections, effectively doubling speeds to between 500Kbps and 800Kbps. The speed approaches that of a land-based Internet connection and could be crucial for any user hoping to upload large files or stream video, AT&T says. HSUPA should be part of the network today but will not be commercially available until sometime later in the fall.
To get users ready for the speed increase, AT&T today also released the AirCard 881 from Sierra Wireless. The PC Card supports HSUPA with theoretical peak speeds of 7.2Mbps downstream and 2Mbps upstream, but also supports HSDPA, EDGE, and GPRS in slower service areas or in other regions. Tri-band 3G lets it connect at high speeds while roaming not just in North America and Europe but also in Japan and South Korea, according to AT&T. Both Apple PowerBooks running Mac OS X as well as most recent Windows systems will support the AirCard, which is available today for free with a two-year, $60 monthly data plan or for $250 without the contract.
The availability of HSUPA may expand AT&T's options for cellphones in the future to include more advanced models, particularly from Europe and Korea where HSUPA access is already available. Apple chief Steve Jobs has expressed a desire to introduce a 3G iPhone by late next year but has not said whether the company will have the opportunity to use HSUPA as part of the upgrade, which he said was contingent on the battery life of upcoming 3G chipsets.