Sweden pushes ahead with 4G network

The mobile operator TeliaSonera has signed up Ericsson and Huawei to build its LTE network, saying it intends to get one of the first such 4G networks up and running in 2010

The Swedish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera has signed contracts towards the launch of an 4G high-speed wireless network in 2010, saying it aims to be one of the first with an LTE network up and running.

TeliaSonera said on Thursday it had signed up Ericsson to construct its initial Stockholm LTE (the long-term evolution of 3G) network, and Huawei for the initial Oslo network. Both equipment makers said it was their first commercial LTE contract.

The telco said it is still evaluating suppliers for further LTE networks across Sweden and its other markets.

LTE, also known as 4G, is one of the main contenders to succeed current 3G networks, and represents a step up from High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), which is sometimes called 3.5G. Some see mobile WiMax as a competitor to LTE, though others say the two technologies will prove complementary.

Estimates vary as to the real-world download speeds LTE will provide. Ericsson currently has LTE running at up to 160Mbps in laboratory conditions, with an average speed of 78Mbps in field tests, the company told ZDNet UK in a recent interview.

By comparison, the fastest HSPA network in the UK at the moment delivers about 7.2Mbps average download speeds, Ericsson said, adding that download speeds depend on such factors as how many base stations operators install.

More than 18 operators worldwide have announced LTE deployment plans, according to a report this week from ABI Research. ABI expects operators to spend $8.6bn (£5.8bn) on the technology over the next five years, despite the economic crisis.

Most of these operators are planning deployments in 2011 or 2012, one exception being the US telco Verizon Wireless, which has announced LTE deployment plans for this year. ABI said Japan's NTT may also deliver LTE in 2009.

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