A Canadian developer has come up with software that can accelerate data transfers to mobile phones.

The company, SlipStream Data, already has a web acceleration appliance for mobile service providers but has now developed network optimisation clients for Symbian, Treo, and Windows smartphones, as well as for PCs with 3G datacards.

The 300kB client program cooperates with a server within the network to fight the throughput problems inherent in GPRS and 3G networks. Not only are these networks limited on speed, but they have very high latency and can also suffer from poor radio reception.

SlipStream says its software uses adaptive data compression and network optimisation techniques similar to those used for WAN acceleration. It claims its technology can triple the effective download speed, and that it can also reduce the data load on the network by up to 80 percent, which means cost savings for the network operator.

"We do a lot of optimisation at the TCP and HTTP layers, and a lot of work at the application layer," said Ante Rupcic, SlipStream's head of mobile market development. "We say it makes GPRS work like EDGE, and EDGE work like 3G"

Although mobile networks present many of the same challenges as WANs when it comes to running apps over them, there are extra mobile-specific problems. For example, SlipStream has had to add session-persistence to its software.

"If you go out of coverage, we can maintain your application data, and then when you re-enter coverage we can resume the session, even you've now got a new IP address," Rupcic said.

"We want to create a better user experience for mobile devices that browse or transfer files - what the mobile operators and equipment suppliers all fail to realise is that the better the user experience, the greater the take-up, while an inconsistent experience turns people off."