Vodafone has announced its continuing partnership with Huawei to provide its customers with Mobile Broadband data cards. The company currently offers both USB and ExpressCard options manufactured by Huawei with the previous generation of USB modems being about three times larger than the new USB modem stick. The device supports HSDPA and HSUPA (High Speed Downlink/Uplink Packet Access), delivering an even better experience. It can support download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps in selected areas.
At present the 3.5G coverage area (i.e. where HSDPA/HSUPA services are available) is slightly limited, but as with 3G networks this will expand as demand grows across the country. The speeds now offered by the mobile operators present a realistic alternative to fixed broadband, particularly for users who only browse occasionally from a laptop and those who travel frequently.
One significant impact of mobile broadband services becoming widely available will be the pressure on operators of wireless hotspots. These have yielded revenues with good margins for cafes and hotels with some charging over £10 per day for Internet access, although it is expected that to remain competitive, such services will have to be significantly cheaper if not free. It is likely such services will become a 'selling point' in the same way free newspapers in a hotel might be, rather than an additional revenue stream. Also, any remaining operators of commercial services are likely to be under increasing pressure to join a network as subscriptions to services such as BT Openzone are far more competitive and convenient than paying for each hotspot separately.
More details can be found on the Vodafone business website (the residential one doesn't feature this modem yet.)