Today TeliaSonera AB (ETR:TLS, news, filings) took another step along the road to 4G, awarding its first two LTE contracts for two cities on its Nordic home turf. Huawei won the contract for Oslo, and Ericsson won the contract for Stockholm. The 4G system will be based on 3GPP LTE/SAE standards, capable of speeds in the hundreds of Mbps in trials. What that means in a congested production network is anyone's guess of course, but it will surely be fast.
The question everyone is asking in the USA, of course, is whether or not clwr can muster enough cash to roll out WiMax quickly enough to not get stomped on by the incumbents and LTE. It's unclear which technology is better of course, the danger to Clearwire comes not from technological superiority but from raw financial firepower and existing customer relationships. Therefore, this move by TeliaSonera may suggest that LTE will not lag, and that WiMax had better get moving.
On the other hand, there is something missing from today's PR: timetables. TeliaSonera has chosen the equipment and the cities, but that's the easy part. Clearly these deployments are trials in many ways: for the technology itself, for the suppliers, and for the operational requirements. How things turn out will tell us a great deal about when LTE will really get here in force. 2009 will be the year WiMax really arrived, will 2010 be the year of LTE? We shall see.
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