Wireless vendor giants Nortel and Qualcomm have completed the first HSDPA mobile data calls achieving speeds of 7.2 MB/s—data rates that are as much as four times faster than most current fixed broadband connections, according to a Nortel announcement released today.

The tests were conducted in Europe covering all frequencies used by UMTS operators throughout the world, according to Nortel. The tests used a Nortel base station and a handset designed by Qualcomm, Nortel spokesman Ben Roome said.

Typical data rates for GPRS networks are 20-30 kb/s, while WCDMA networks can achieve speeds of 150 kb/s, Roome said. With the HSDPA technology tested, Roome said data rates for mobile users probably would range from just under 200 kb/s to 1 Mb/s, depending on the load of the cell site. The 7.2 Mb/s speed is the maximum speed a mobile user could get with a single connection, he said.

“If [the technology] was used over a dedicated link at that speed, you could use it to watch high-definition television,” Roome said.

Nortel has deployed HSDPA networks that have achieved maximum data rates of 3.6 Mb/s. Roome said Nortel has made the 7.2 Mb/s HSDPA base stations available immediately but was unsure when handsets that could maximize the network’s features would be available.