TeliaSonera today launched the world’s first commercial LTE networks, a major development that sees the Nordic operator steal a march in this heavily-hyped sector. The operator has switched on networks in Oslo, Norway (using kit from Huawei) and Stockholm, Sweden (using equipment from Ericsson). Samsung is supplying an LTE dongle (pictured) that operates in the 2.6GHz band, which can be connected to a laptop via USB. The South Korean vendor aims to release an updated version of the dongle – which will offer backward compatibility to HSPA and EDGE services – in the first half of 2010. In a press conference this morning, TeliaSonera revealed that the rollout of its LTE network in Sweden and Norway would cost SEK500 million (US$70.24 million) in 2010. “We will launch in at least 25 cities before end of 2010,” said Kenneth Karlberg, the head of the Swedish operator’s mobile services division, referring to the Swedish launch. Services would also be launched in four cities in Norway, the company said. “In Denmark, we expect licenses to come up in the first quarter of 2010,” he said.
Initial launch of the networks today is ahead of schedule, as TeliaSonera had targeted H1 2010 for first deployment. The operator’s progress sees it beat rivals Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS to launch. Although individual statements from Huawei and Samsung this morning claim that the networks will offer maximum speeds of up to 100Mb/s and are approximately 10 times faster than existing 3G networks, it’s worth noting that Verizon Wireless has stated that its own launch of the technology will enable average downlink data rates per user of 5-12 Mb/s and 2-5 Mb/s in the uplink. TeliaSonera’s move today marks the first of many expected LTE deployments; the GSMA claims that 50 mobile operators worldwide have already committed to LTE plans, trials or deployments.