US still waiting as first LTE network lands in Sweden

Just a few weeks after Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) finished its 2009 WiMax rollout, competing 4G technology long-term evolution (LTE) landed its first network – in Sweden. TeliaSonera launched in two cities – the first LTE launches ever – today, promising wireless download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The wireless operator used equipment from Ericsson and Huawei to roll out the service in Stockholm and Olso, respectively.

TeliaSonera said LTE will be rolled out to 25 total cities in Sweden and Norway in 2010, although admitted that 4G-ready mobile phones would probably not be available before 2011. Samsung data cards will be available at launch. The operator is using the network for mobile data, promising speeds up to 10 times faster than today’s turbo 3G. TeliaSonera will also offer subscriptions that “follow the Internet speed price logic from the fixed side,” the company said in a release.

TeliaSonera’s deployment is not a huge launch, covering less than half a million people, but a significant milestone for LTE nonetheless. The Swedish operator was able to turn on the network ahead of its initially scheduled 2010 date. Meanwhile in the US, Verizon Wireless has plans to launch its first LTE market in the latter half of next year and then ramp-up quickly to a 30 markets, 100-million-pop footprint covering the largest cities in the US. AT&T is holding back even longer with plans for a 2011 deployment, choosing to wait until more devices are available for the 4G service.

With 3G, there was a several-year gap between availability of the network technology and when handsets actually became commercially available in any significant numbers. Analysts expect the same for 4G, both abroad and in the US.

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