Getting all hot and bothered about the 2010 arrival of 'Super 3G / LTE? Me too, but in the meantime there's life in plain old 3G yet...
Today Vodafone has announced it is rolling out 14.4Mbit mobile broadband nationwide making it the first UK telco to do so. Unsurprisingly, major city centres will benefit first with London, Birmingham and Liverpool first on the list. This actually makes sense given it is as much the density of users to any one cell tower as the signal strength of the tower itself which affects 3G performance.
As for the practicalities, happily Vodafone reports "over 80%" of all its datacards/dongles and 3G handsets can take advantage of the new speeds. How come the number is so high? Simple: given that real world speeds for 7.2Mbit are nowhere near this 14.4Mbit is unlikely to breach the 7.2Mbit barrier in everyday usage either - it should just make for a quicker, more reliable service due to the extra bandwidth. Huzzah!
In fact Vodafone admits: "Whilst 14.4 Mbps is the theoretical peak rate, customers can expect to see typical speeds of anything between 1 and 4 Mbps with a practical maximum speed of 10.8 Mbps."
Vodafone is on a flyer at the moment. Linked with a T-Mobile takeover, scrapping roaming chargers for the summer, introducing flat rate data roaming, inking a mast sharing deal with O2 and bringing the first Femtocell home 3G signal booster to the market in the shape of the Vodafone Access Gateway.
If that's not enough, the network began 21Mbit mobile broadband trials in January. Nice to see someone lit a fire under it...
PS I've asked Vodafone what are the 20 per cent of devices (dongles in particular) that won't work. I'll keep you posted.