TeliaSonera launches first commercial LTE services

In Stockholm and Oslo, it expects normal download speeds between 20 Mbps and 80 Mbps

Mobile operator TeliaSonera has launched the world's first commercial LTE (Long-Term Evolution) networks, in the central parts of Stockholm and Oslo, it said on Monday. The service will become available on Tuesday, and cost 599 Swedish kronor (US$84) per month, but until July 1 users will pay 4 Swedish kronor, according to Erik Hallberg, head of Mobility Services at TeliaSonera.

Today, TeliaSonera charges between 19.50 Swedish kronor and 124.50 Swedish kronor for mobile broadband, according to its web site. A modem is included in the latter subscription, but costs 50 Swedish kronor extra per month for users who pick the cheapest option.

Data traffic for those two subscriptions is capped at 1 GB and 10 GB respectively, compared to 30 GB for the LTE subscription.

LTE subscribers will access the Internet with a modem from Samsung, that is included for free. It only supports LTE, so new subscribers will also receive a 3G USB dongle to access the Internet when they are not in an area covered by LTE.

However, having two modems is only a temporary solution, according to TeliaSonera. The two modems will be exchanged for one that supports both LTE and 3G, which is expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2010, TeliaSonera said.

Normal download speeds are expected be between 20 Mbps (bits per second) and 80 Mbps, according to Johan Wibergh, senior vice president and head of Ericsson's business unit for networks. The speeds will, for example, be able to support HDTV on a big screen, he said.

TeliaSonera's current HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) network offers up to 10 Mbps, according to its web site.Users can also access the Internet via Wi-Fi at up to 22 Mbps, the web site said.

Recently, U.S. operator Verizon said its LTE network will deliver speeds between 5 Mbps and 12 Mbps. The difference in capacity is due to the fact that Verizon has 10 MHz of radio spectrum each for the uplink and the downlink, and TeliaSonera has 20 MHz for each channel, according to Wibergh.

Ericsson and Huawei are both delivering equipment to TeliaSonera. Both vendors said the LTE networks in Oslo and Stockholm are the world's first to enter commercial service. Ericsson also has contracts to supply network infrastructure to Verizon and NTT DoCoMo, two other operators expected to launch early LTE services.

LTE is expected to be the next major standard in mobile broadband technology, and carriers have begun to convert their networks.

Up to another 17 LTE networks are anticipated to be in service by the end of 2010 in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, South Africa, Sweden, Armenia and Finland, according to data from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

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Mikael Ricknäs

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