Hidden jewel of the latest LTE launch

A full year after the LTE launches in Sweden and Norway TeliaSonera launched the first commercial 4G network in Finland this week.

The sales director of TeliaSonera Finland was quoted in a news site: “First day sales target exceeded by 100%, the first customer bought two subscriptions”. Indeed he said this with a glint in the eye, but it’s still so that people are not really queuing for 4G in the stores. The launch provoked diminutive interest in the Finnish press too. One reason for this could of course be that the service is only offered in Turku and in a few districts in Northern Helsinki – and that you can only buy the service from two stores in Finland. With the price of 46€/month LTE is circa 3 times more expensive than plain vanilla 3G. The service was launched using the 2.6GHz band and comes with a Samsung 4G modem.

Even though this 4G launch is less intriguing for the consumers than the line of new tablets promoted in the operators’ xmas campaigns it still bears significance for the industry. TeliaSonera states that although the service was launched in the 2.6GHz, when expanding the network the focus will be in the 1.8GHz. In Europe only a small Polish operator Mobyland has before TeliaSonera confirmed their 1.8GHz LTE plans. The frequency is a lower-cost option for 4G deployment as it’s better suited for range and penetration, meaning fewer base stations need to be deployed. Theoretically, the net effect should be that LTE networks get deployed faster in the country than otherwise would have been possible, but, as we know all too well, spectrum diversity always leads to fractured hardware availability. TeliaSonera promises network expansions before the first 1.8/2.6GHz modems are expected to reach shop shelves in the spring of 2011.

Sonera’s announcement was not the only 4G launch in Finland this week. As with NMT, GPRS and 3G networks Sonera got to be the first to launch LTE as well, but only beating the runner-up 4G launch by one day. Finnet launched mobile Wimax network (2.6GHz) in a few small cities (not in Helsinki or Turku) and plans to have national coverage within the next few years.

Northstream embraces the efforts to bring Finland in the forefront of 4G and is looking forward to test the local 4G .…as soon as we first find our way to the Northern suburbs of Helsinki.


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