Vodafone customers' trial 1.8Mbps mobile broadband

Forty Vodafone customers have been given an early taste of the telco's upgrade to its 3G service which will be officially launched later in the year.

The upgrade of Vodafone's 3G mobile network to the high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) protocol will increase download speeds from 384Kbps to a peak of 1.8Mbps.

Vodafone spokesperson, Greg Spears, would not reveal the official launch date of the service, but said it would be before the end of the year.

The chosen few were hand-picked by Vodafone account managers to trial and provide feedback on the telco's new HSDPA network which will be marketed as "mobile broadband" to spare consumers from the cumbersome acronym.

The 40 participants, all from the lower North Shore of Sydney, are existing Vodafone Mobile Connect customers using 3G data cards.

"The purpose of this trial is to test every element of the customer experience," Spears said. "From the moment they open the box and read the instructions, to the performance of the network's speed and coverage."

Participants will be supplied with questionnaires and will be encouraged to provide as much feedback as possible, Spears said.

Vodafone declined to supply participant contact details, but added they would be available for comment once the trial had been underway for "a period of time".

"At the moment we're just interested in ironing out any bugs before the full commercial launch," Spears said.

The upgraded network will initially be available in Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan areas with expansions to other cities following thereafter.

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