Korean handset vendor LG Electronics beat Nokia, Motorola and Samsung to the punch by announcing it will launch this month the first phone that will run on Cingular's HSDPA network. LG has been working hard to become a top-tier handset player, branching out from the CDMA market into GSM territory with some cutting-edge handsets. At the Consumer Electronics Show, LG also showed off a mobile handset that enables streaming music, presumably offering Verizon's new streaming music service that the carrier announced today. LG and Samsung have been aggressively cracking into markets outside of their own CDMA-dominated Korean market.
As with any new technology, handsets are one of the challenging aspects to the roll out of HSDPA. While Cingular's goal was the come out of the gate with handsets supporting the network and its suppliers had committed to a fourth-quarter 2005 delivery date, most analysts believe the majority of HSDPA-enabled handsets won't be ready until the second half of 2006. To wit, Samsung announced it will be launching North America's first UMTS handset with Cingular. While LG didn't indicate data speeds its handset will support, the handset data speed difference will probably be negligible between UMTS and HSDPA since Cingular has engineered its initial roll out of HSDPA to support peak rates of 1 Mbps, not the 1.8 Mbps spelled out in the initial spec of the standard. UMTS tops out at about 400 Kbps.