Fifty ways to leave your legacy network [Day One: HSDPA]

New networking protocols make news almost every day. In this series, Ian Yates, TechTarget ANZ's Consulting Editor, Networking, explains the future role of five important new protocols.

There probably are fifty ways to do networking differently form the way you're doing it now, but for the sake of brevity we'll look at the five most recent methods to cross the radar screens.

The five we've chosen are mostly alphabet soup -- as usual. HSDPA, 802.11n, WiMAX, ZigBee and Wireless USB are the chosen ones and we'll unscramble their acronyms and give you an insight into why, when or if they are ever likely to be encountered, and whether you should embrace them warmly or exterminate the blighters on sight.

HSDPA

The acronym stands for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access and it's bolted into so-called 3G mobile telephony. Today's HSDPA offerings support 1.8MBit/s or 3.6MBit/s downstream with promises of 7.2MBit/s real soon now. Theoretically, HSDPA can give throughput up to 10.8Mbit/s.

HSDPA is basically supercharged W-CDMA, and the speed hike is achieved by using a separate channel just for downlinks. And there's the rub - there's no separate channel for uplinks. However, 3G does improve uplink speed to 384Kbit/s compared with the 128Kbit/s offered by its predecessors. What this means in practical terms, is any work-oriented rather than entertainment-oriented application needs to be tailored with this limitation in mind.

An application which requires simple form-filling remotely should work quite well over HSDPA, but sending large files back to head office will require a lot of patience, and a lot of dollars at the prevailing premium call rates for data.

That said, you are definitely going to bump into this protocol at the office because every new mobile phone will arrive with promises of "mobile broadband" and you'll have to be the party-pooper explaining why the entire workforce can't immediately decamp to the nearest beach and telecommute. Genuinely mobile staff are probably struggling with older CDMA technology so you'll certainly put a smile on their faces with an upgrade to HSDPA.

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