Rogers Communications has accelerated its deployment plans for a voice and data network based on High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), a wireless cellular technology designed to support speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps.

The Canadian company noted it would complete HSDPA trials next month, a date that is earlier than originally anticipated. Rogers expects to launch HSDPA-based services as early as Fall 2006.

Video calling and video sharing are among the applications that Rogers will support via HSDPA.

"This enables us to offer the widest variety of handsets and most advanced data services of any mobile wireless technology," said Rogers Communications EVP and CTO Bob Berner, noting that GSM/HSDPA is used today by 80 percent of wireless subs worldwide.

"Downlink data speeds on HSDPA are expected to be between eight to ten times faster than the current 2.5G technology, and it will make this network the fastest in the market, able to offer a user experience that can be comparable even with broadband wireline services," said Mark Henderson, president of Ericsson Canada, Rogers' sole provider of the UMTS/HSDPA packet core and radio network equipment.

HSDPA, an enhancement of GSM UMTS-based cellular networks, is expected to provide average speeds in the range of 550 kbps to 1.1 Mbps. According to Ericsson and Rogers, their HSDPA network will evolve to support downlink peak speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps.

In the U.S., Cingular is among HSDPA's early adopters.

EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized), another next-gen cellular technology, supports an advertised rate of 1.5 Mbps, with burst capabilities of about 2 Mbps and average speeds of 400 kbps to 700 kbps. Verizon and Sprint are well on their way to supporting EVDO technology.