A big week for LTE

Dianne Northfield/Tolaga Research
21 Sep 2011
00:00
This past week saw the launch of no less than five commercial LTE networks spanning nations in the Middle East and North America. Within days of one another, Saudi Arabia’s three mobile operators, Mobily, STC and Zain all announced LTE launches.
Mobily’s TD-LTE variant is using spectrum at 2.6 GHz owned by its subsidiary Bayanat Al-Oula. The TD-LTE service is initially available in 6 cities, with 88% population coverage planned by year end.
The service is offered with a wireless broadband router. Contrary to the company’s statements, this is not a world first, with Aero2 of Poland having launched a TD-LTE network back in Q2 2011. Aero2 also recently partnered with Huawei with plans to launch a combined TDD/FDD-LTE network.
Having partnered with NSN, the leading mobile operator in Saudi Arabia, STC followed suit just a day later to launch the Kingdom’s second TD-LTE network in the nation’s Western region. STC launched its offering along with a USB modem. Zain Saudi Arabia followed close behind launching LTE services in three cities, also using spectrum in the 2.6 GHz range.
In North America, Canada saw the launch of its second commercial LTE service provided by Bell Mobilicity, initially in 5 cities. This follows the live network launched by Rogers Communications in July 2011. Bell’s deployment has been supported by vendors including NSN and Huawei and the operator is launching with a laptop modem provided by Sierra Wireless.
Bell is primarily focusing on an urban deployment focus, with rural expansion tied to acquiring spectrum in the pending 700 MHz auction in Canada slated for next year.
Next in line is AT&T, which switched on its LTE network in five cities on September 18. The operator is targeting coverage of 70 million people (15 cities) by the end of 2011. The carrier is initially offering USB (2 devices) and mobile hotspot access, along with a data tablet.

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