4G coverage on the up in Norway as Netcom, Telenor boost LTE networks

Nearly half of the population of Norway can now access 4G LTE services where they live with mobiles, tablets and dongles. The operators are awaiting the upcoming frequency auction to lift 4G coverage into the 90 percent region.

Both of the Norwegian mobile operators that currently offer 4G services are steadily increasing their LTE network coverage.

TeliaSonera-owned NetCom, which opened the world's first commercially available LTE network in 2009, recently announced that it has now reached 44 percent coverage of the Norwegian population with its 4G service.

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That coverage translates to around 2.2 million people in 140 cities and towns across the country.

NetCom only opened up its LTE network for use with mobile phones around a month ago — until then, the company's 4G was only available for use with USB modems and some LTE-compatible tablets.

Incumbent Telenor came later to the 4G party, launching its LTE network in the second half of 2012, and it's been playing catch-up ever since.  The company also initially started out offering modem-based mobile broadband products, but began supporting mobile phones at the end of last year.

However, Telenor recently rolled out its 1000th 4G base station in Norway, taking network coverage to between 35 and 40 percent of the population. Its focus of late has been on extending coverage across typical summer vacation spots, in particular on the country's south-eastern coast, where many Norwegians spend their summer holidays.

Both operators are eagerly awaiting the freeing-up of 800MHz spectrum in Norway. The frequency band is expected to be ready for use in 2014, following a spectrum auction that's scheduled to begin on 2 December this year. The auction will provide frequencies in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, all of which will be  allocated for mobile use.

The Norwegian government has decided to put coverage obligations on one licence for the 800MHz band.

The coverage obligation stipulates that the operator that wins the licence must cover 98 percent of the population — a requirement that needs to be fulfilled within five years after the award of the spectrum. The service must also deliver an average download speed of 2Mbps.

Telenor's aim is to provide 90 percent LTE coverage by population by 2016.

Telenor's 4G coverage highlighted in blue
Telenor's 4G coverage highlighted in blue. Image: Telenor
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