The Magical Mystery Tour – LTE goes public

TeliaSonera takes the lead on exploring new domains and launches the world’s first commercial LTE network!  That’s all great, but what should we expect from these very first steps into the future?

Walking down to the TeliaSonera store on the opening day, some things are just as you would expect from a grand opening, including Champagne and twiglets for everyone. But there’s no queue, no iPhone-launch type of masses lining up to become the first LTE customers. Perhaps most people are waiting a few more hours for the web register to open, avoiding the other season launch – the heavy snowfall in central Stockholm? In any case, for those of us that do show up it becomes apparent that the launch in “2009” is more of a promotion than a real launch. Instead of getting our LTE device and service we are kindly asked to sign up for a place on the waiting list and informed that service activation is expected early in 2010 when the very first USB dongles for commercial use will be shipped. To sooth potential disappointments, we are quickly getting our image of early adopter strengthened(?) by hearing that our devices will be “exclusively hand built”. Ok…

Anyway, aside the feeling that some of the magic go mysterious we should not forget that technology evolution requires early birds like TeliaSonera pushing technology, suppliers and the market into the future. The aggressive time plan will surely ensure a quicker weed-out of teething problems and thus a better platform for early mass-adoption of LTE as more launches from other operators are just around the corner. All needed to develop a critical mass for establishing a functional and virtuous LTE ecosystem. We addressed this in more details in our LTE white paper some months ago, and if you haven’t read it take a look at “LTE when the time’s right”.

So, as the LTE tour now sets off, it is likely to have a bumpy road ahead for both drivers and passengers, at least to start with. And, if we paraphrase what was pointed out by the frontrunners; ‘We are not sure where we’re heading with 4G but hope that you users will help us by showing what it can be used for’. Quite unusal but fresh to hear mobile operators openly state that for once we don’t really know what the future will bring, but still trust that it will bring enough to make the investment worthwhile. We agree to 100%. In the end, the mobile future will fundamentally be driven by what the internet innovation eco system delivers in response to user demands and preferences.

Meanwhile, on our side, we are eagerly looking forward for our ‘dongle’ to be shipped so we can get on that ride and look at the view ourselves. Thinking about it, we hope it will be both magic and mysterious. Stay tuned…

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