Monday, December 14, 2009

LTE version 1.0. TeleSonora begins 4G cellular service in Scandinavia using Chinese equipment

We cover cellular networks and generations in discussing mobile and portable connectivity.

Today might be considered the first day of the fourth generation -- TeleSonera began offering commercial LTE (Long Term Evolution) service in central Stockholm and Oslo. This is LTE 1.0. It is not built into phones; it is not offered outside of Oslo and Stockholm; there is no competition; it does not fall back to 3G or WiFi; there are no tethering applications for creating portable WiFi hot spots, but it is here.

The service delivers download speeds in the 20-80 Mbps range and will cost 599 Swedish Kronor ($85) per month. There will be no data cap while the service ramps up, but after July 1 2010, they will impose a 30 GB-per-month cap. It also requires a Samsung plug in modem. The current version of the modem is LTE only, but they will soon have one that can fall back to the 3G network where LTE is unavailable.

When TeleSonera began testing in Oslo last June, they said rollout would begin in 2010, but demand for high speed mobile connectivity convinced them to push the start date up.

The equipment is manufactured by Huawei, a Chinese company. You may think of China as a manufacturer of cheap toys and other consumer goods, but they are becoming world leaders in high tech areas like telecommunication. Huawei European equipment sales were $3 billion in 2008, compared to just $160 million in 2003. Forty of the world's fifty largest telephone companies are now Huawei customers and 75% of their 2008 sales were outside of China. Globally, Huawei is the second largest mobile connectivity manufacturer.

Check this short video tour of the Stockholm base station, which has both 3G and the new LTE 4G equipment.

Verizon's FIOS Internet connectivity is $70 per month for up to 25 mbps download and 15 mbps upload. Would you rather have that or TeleSonera portable service in Stockholm?

What new applications and devices might this service enable?