Cingular Wireless and Lucent Technologies yesterday announced the first completed data call in the U.S. using High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology in a field trial.

HSDPA is an upgrade to the UMTS 3G networks being deployed by GSM mobile carriers throughout the world. In the Atlanta trial, an HSDPA-enhanced network sustained over-the-air data rates of more than 3 Mb/s—eight times faster than the 384 Kb/s peak throughput available in a normal UMTS network. The HSDPA test also demonstrated greatly reduced latency, which will let Cingular offer interactive services such a multiplayer video gaming to mobile users.

"The investments we're making in our network will enable our customers to receive the fastest mobile broadband services in the country," Kris Rinne, Cingular’s chief technology officer, said in a prepared statement. "UMTS/HSDPA delivers a host of operating efficiencies, which also equates to cost savings for our business."

A key aspect of those efficiencies is the increased capacity that the spectrally-efficient HSDPA is designed to provide. Lucent spokesman Kurt Steinert said the HSDPA enhancement—requiring only a software upgrade, in many cases, if there is sufficient backhaul capacity—will let mobile carriers serve four to six times as many data users at significantly greater speeds than a normal UMTS network. Eventually, HSDPA will deliver maximum theoretical speeds of 14.4 Mb/s, Steinart said.

“Right now, the peak speed isn’t limited by the hardware or software; it’s limited by the devices,” Steinart said.