MTN`s data cards arrive this week

By Dave Glazier, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 11 Apr 2006

Shipments of MTN high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) data cards are expected to arrive in SA by the weekend, and should be available through retail channels before the end of the month.

This is according to Brian Seligmann, MTN`s senior manager for data and messaging, who says more than 10 000 cards will arrive in the first shipment, followed by more cards that will be ordered according to demand.

The initial, corporate-focused HSDPA cards from MTN (the Sierra Wireless AC 850) have been available through MTN`s corporate channel since the beginning of the year and usable since 23 March, when MTN launched HSDPA. Several thousand of these have been sold, he notes.

"The new MTN data card [for private users] will be significantly cheaper than any MTN data card in the past," promises Seligmann. He adds that they will be compatible with any laptop or desktop with a PC card adaptor.


Seligmann outlines MTN`s HSDPA strategy: "Whereas our competitor [Vodacom] has chosen full deployment, we`ve chosen to provide HSDPA to our high traffic sites initially, to be followed by all sites over a period of time."

All MTN 3G sites that experience more than 1GB of data traffic per month have been upgraded, he explains.

He declines to comment on the present levels of HSDPA-enabled coverage. "All I can say is that the HSDPA-enabled sites are a significant percentage of the 3G sites."

Downlink speeds

The maximum downlink speed for MTN`s HSDPA, though theoretically 1.8Mbps, will in reality peak at speeds of 1.3 to 1.4Mbps. The average downlink speed will be between 800 and 900Kbps. This is typical for all HSDPA networks around the world, explains Seligmann.

Average uplink speeds of around 256Kbps on average make HSDPA considerably superior to MTN 3G`s 64Kbps, he says.

Seligmann notes that four factors affect the basic speed of any radio network:
* Capability of the network - whether it is GSM, EDGE, 3G or HSDPA enabled.
* Terminal - whether the handset adequately supports the technology.
* Distance from the tower - which determines the strength of the radio signal.
* Number of concurrent users - the more users, the slower the service.

Seligmann says a 1GB bundle will cost R499, with a R1.25 per megabyte charge for those exceeding 1GB. Per megabyte billing will be at R2.

Related stories:
MTN outlines broadband plans
Vodacom mobile broadband kicks off
ADSL 'to be overtaken soon`
Forget ADSL, think HSDPA