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Vodafone has conducted successful trials of mobile broadband technology that saw consumers benefit from download speeds of up to 16Mb, raising the prospect that super fast mobile broadband could soon be on its way to the UK.

The broadband provider attained the 16Mb peak data download rate in tests of its HSPA+64QAM technology in Spain. It now plans to extend the project with a view to delivering mobile broadband speeds of up to 21Mb in the coming weeks. The company has yet to confirm whether it intends to bring the technology to the UK, but has intimated that it is planning to make it available to “selected commercial networks” in Spain.

By way of comparison, the fastest mobile broadband speeds that can currently be achieved is 7.2Mb – less than half that which Vodafone is claiming for its trials. Consequently, the advent of faster mobile broadband, which has been subject to a huge boom in the UK, has the potential to transform the way that consumers use their connections, allowing them to download videos and music significantly faster.

However, Vodafone noted that the 16Mb speed is unlikely to be standard and said that realistically owners of mobile broadband-enabled devices could expect to receive speeds of around 4Mb, adding more optimistically that in good conditions a video download of around 13Mb could be possible. According to a report from Network World, these are defined as there being “not too many people on the network, suitable atmospheric conditions, and the [type of] devices used”.

Andy MacLeod, global networks director of Vodafone, said: "Successfully demonstrating a live HSPA+ high speed connection has been a key milestone in continuing to build confidence in this new technology. The results show that HSPA+ technology is well placed to further enhance our customers' mobile broadband experience through the evolution of our existing 3G networks."

HSPA is regarded as the next evolutionary stage in the development of 3G networks, with Vodafone’s experiments with the technology conducted in conjunction with Qualcomm and Ericsson. The speeds were attained thanks to the use of 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) base stations and data devices.

HSPA’s potential to become the new standard for mobile broadband networks could, however, be stymied by the fact that it will require new mobile broadband devices to be developed which are compatible with the technology.

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