Consumers looking for a new cellphone need to learn a new acronym: HSPA

Consumers looking to upgrade their cellphones have a new acronym to learn: HSPA.

TORONTO — Consumers looking to upgrade their cellphones have a new acronym to learn: HSPA.

All three of Canada’s big wireless providers are buzzing about the new technology, which promises to make smartphones even more fun and powerful.

HSPA stands for High Speed Packet Access, which can empower mobile phones to download at blazing speeds of up 21 megabits per second.

Those speeds far surpass what many consumers are currently getting through their home Internet connection.

Under ideal conditions, an MP3 would download nearly instantly, video would stream flawlessly, and large files like movies could be downloaded in short order.

The HSPA technology isn’t entirely new, as Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) has already had it in place for some time and it has been rolled out elsewhere around the world.

But Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) are levelling the playing field by launching their own HSPA networks, which will enable them to start selling the Apple iPhone and other cutting-edge mobile devices.

Bell’s new network is live today, while Telus launches Thursday.

Each company has its own sales pitch boasting why its HSPA service is tops.

Rogers says it’s offering the largest selection of HSPA-capable phones on a “proven network.”

Bell is promoting a video-calling feature to take advantage of the high-speed connection, including an exclusive Facebook application that allows video chat between Internet users and Bell cellphone users.

Telus says its extensive HSPA network will offer Internet access for the first time to many rural residents who had previously been underserved, including customers in as many as 2,100 British Columbia and Alberta communities.

Desktop and laptop computers can also connect to the HSPA networks to take advantage of the high speeds, although it’s typically a more expensive option, especially for users who do a lot of downloading or use a lot of bandwidth.

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