Vodafone and Orange scramble to be first to 4G in Romania

Romania is to get at least two 4G mobile networks in the coming months, with Vodafone announcing a test LTE network will go live this month, and Orange promising its own launch shortly after.
Written by Michiel van Blommestein, Contributor

Mobile operators Vodafone and Orange are on the verge of starting LTE services in Romania.

Vodafone is the first company to announce a large-scale LTE service in the country, confirming on Tuesday that its network will go live on 31 October.

The operator will offer download speeds of up to 75Mbps in a number of Romanian cities by the end of the year, with users able to test out the services for free. Next year, it expects to increase speeds to a maximum of 100Mbps and move to a paid-for model.

Orange will not be far behind its rival, with CEO Jean-Francois Fallacher last month announcing the operator expects to begin deploying its LTE network before the end of this year. It has been trialling LTE for a number of months: in February the company was granted an experimental licence for LTE frequencies in the country's capital Bucharest in February.

Both companies will use equipment from Chinese manufacturer Huawei for their LTE deployments.

Romania's planned 4G launches follow the completion of the country's spectrum auction last month. The auction, run by Romanian telecoms regulator Ancom, saw telcos including Cosmote, Romania Cable Systems and 2K Telecom – as well as Vodafone and Orange – all successfully bidding for slices of 4G spectrum. All of the licences awarded are valid until 2029.

The scramble for LTE in Romania means the country is one of Europe's early adopters of the next-generation mobile tech: Vodafone has only rolled out LTE in Europe in two other countries: Portugal and Germany, for example.

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe have been working hard to expand their LTE networks in order to compensate for their lagging cable broadband infrastructures. LTE projects in Poland started back in 2010, while countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary have also been expanding their LTE coverage rapidly, although mainly on a local level.

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