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First '4G' services go live in Norway, Sweden

TeliaSonera has brought out the first commercial LTE broadband services in the world, inviting early adopters to try out the successor to 3G
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

The world's first commercial LTE mobile broadband services went live in the centres of Oslo and Stockholm on Monday, through the Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera.

Offering theoretical maximum speeds of 100Mbps and real-world speeds of 20-80Mbps, the services are about 10 times faster than predecessor HSDPA. As of Tuesday, people in Norway and Sweden will be able to buy a mobile dongle that supports the long-term evolution (LTE) of 3G. (TeliaSonera is calling its network '4G', but the official IEEE definition of that term cites 100Mbps as a minimum speed.)

"We are very proud to be the first operator in the world to offer our customers 4G services," TeliaSonera mobility chief Kenneth Karlberg said in a statement on Monday. "The use of mobile broadband in the Nordic countries is exploding, and customers need higher speeds and capacity. This is why we launch 4G services in both Stockholm and Oslo."

At launch, TeliaSonera's LTE services cover around 400,000 people in the centres of Stockholm and Oslo. However, the operator said it is adding base stations every day. It will first introduce the services in the largest cities in Sweden and Norway, followed by sites in Finland, where it recently received an LTE licence. TeleSonera said it hopes to get the licence for a Danish rollout early in 2010.

LTE, which is an all-IP technology, offers high speeds and capacity, and lower latency, than its predecessors. This makes it more suitable than 3G for services such as streaming HD video, videoconferencing and online gaming.

In a press conference in Stockholm on Monday, Karlberg said LTE makes it possible "to do everything that you can do on the fixed network, but on top of that, [the network adds] the mobility dimension". He said this combination of mobility and fixed-line-quality speeds and bandwidth would allow for "applications that we haven't seen so far".

"We invite those customers who are specifically interested in being early adopters of 4G," Karlberg said, adding that TeliaSonera knew the LTE experience would not be "perfect from start".

TeleSonera is releasing limited quantities of Samsung modem dongles for the launch. However, these can only handle 4G and are unable to fall back to 3G networks when outside 4G coverage. The operator said that in the second quarter of next year, it will provide dongles that can handle both standards.

Until 1 July 2010, TeliaSonera is applying no data cap, but after that date it will put a 30GB-per-month cap in place. Services will cost 599 Swedish crowns (£52) per month from July, while a nominal fee of four crowns per month will be charged beforehand.

The infrastructure for the Stockholm LTE network is being supplied by Ericsson, while the Oslo deployment is based on Huawei equipment.

Huawei also announced on Monday that it has completed its first UK-based LTE trials, held in conjunction with O2, that reached maximum downlink throughput of 150Mbps. The trial took place in the Slough area, where O2's headquarters are located.

"We are pleased to collaborate with Huawei on this LTE trial, which will allow us to better understand this emerging technology and prepare us in offering our customers next generation mobile broadband services in the future," O2 chief technology officer Derek McManus said in a statement.

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