In UK, 3 Launches Highspeed Mobile Broadband

I’ve been a big fan of my Verizon National Broadband Access plan since I picked it up back in February. For a little over $60 per month (with taxes), I’m able to connect my laptop to the Internet no matter where I am. No hunting for Wifi, no searching futilely for a nearby Starbucks, no dropping an extra $10 in a $300 hotel room just to check my email. If I’m in a reasonably civilized location (which is not always the case, to be sure), then it’s just a matter of opening the laptop and connecting at speeds between 400 and 700 kbs.

But if I lived in the UK, I’d be mighty tempted to switch to 3’s new Mobile Broadband service, which is offering speeds up to an astounding 2.8 mbs

3 has launched its new Mobile Broadband service, offering HSDPA speeds of up to 2.8Mbps on the go for laptop users, via a USB modem. It’ll use 3’s new ‘Turbo’ network that starts rolling out nationally from 4th September.

There’s three pricing options. Broadband Lite costs £10 a month with a 1GB allowance. Broadband Plus is £15 a month with a 3GB allowance, while Broadband Max is £25 a month with a 7GB allowance. In all cases, if you go over your data limit, you start paying 10p per megabyte. The modem is £0-£99 depending what tariff and how long you sign up for.

Meanwhile, back in Japan — where life is apparently even better — DoCoMo is looking at 300 Mbps with their "Super 3G" service:

 NTT DoCoMo, Inc. announced today that this month it began testing an experimental Super 3G system for mobile communications. With this experiment, DoCoMo will seek to achieve a downlink transmission rate of 300Mbps over a high-speed wireless network.

Super 3G features low-latency data transmission and improved spectrum efficiency. It is a highly advanced version of High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), which have been evolved from W-CDMA packet transmission technologies standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The 3GPP, a telecommunications standards organization, is currently discussing standardization of Super 3G under the name Long Term Evolution (LTE).

DoCoMo will begin with an indoor experiment to test transmission speed using one transmitting and one receiving antenna. The company will then expand the experiment to examine downlink transmission by employing up to four Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antennas for both the base station (transmission side) and mobile station (receiving side); the goal is to achieve a downlink transmission speed of 300Mbps.

Wireless Watch Japan has some video of the DoCoMo phones. But there are, of course, satcom options to compete with faster mobile telecom offerings — such as the GLOBETrekker from Norsat or BGAN from Inmarsat — with the added benefit that you don’t necessarily have to be anywhere near someplace civilized to use them.

Whether via mobile telecom or satcom, however, one thing is clear — the race for mobile internet market share is at least partly a race for connection speed.