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3.5G is driving mobile broadband growth around the globe, with a rapid increase in the number of commercial HSDPA networks being rolled out. The number of commercial HSDPA networks launched worldwide grew by 69% last year, according to a survey by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) — a GSM/3G supplier association. There are now 166 commercial HSDPA networks in 75 countries and a further 38 networks are committed to rollouts — which will bump the total to 204 HSDPA networks in 89 countries, said the GSA. HSDPA, or high speed downlink packet access, is a beefed up flavor of 3G capable of delivering downlink speeds of up to a theoretical maximum of 7.2 Mb/s. Typical speeds achieved are between 800 Kb/s and 3 Mbs. The GSA said the rise of 3.5G is driving mobile broadband services globally — adding that HSPA (referring to both HSDPA and HSUPA) operators around the world are reporting strong subscription growth and increased profitability.

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