Swedes first to bear brunt of full-price LTE

Faster speeds and a larger data allowance should be enough to attract subscribers, according to TeliaSonera

Operators around the world are getting ready to launch commercial LTE services, and users should get ready to pay a premium for mobile broadband using laptops, if TeliaSonera's pricing is anything to go by.

From Thursday, a full-speed LTE (Long-Term Evolution) subscription from TeliaSonera will cost 599 Swedish kronor ($US87) per month for new customers, according to TeliaSonera.

The 599 kronor per month compares to 269 kronor for its most expensive 3G subscription.

Until now, TeliaSonera has offered 4G access at discount rates. But the operator is convinced that some users are willing to pay a premium for the extra speed and data allowance -- up to 30GB per month -- that its Total 4G package comes with, compared to its other mobile broadband offerings, according to Erik Hallberg, head of Mobility Services at TeliaSonera.

The company is also ramping up the expansion of its network. Today, there is coverage in some parts of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö och Visby. At the end of the year the number of cities and towns will have increased to 28, and during 2011 the number should further increase to 228, according to TeliaSonera.

The operator is also offering LTE as an add-on to some of its 3G subscriptions for 100 kronor per month, but not at full speed. Subscribers to its Mellan (Medium) package will pay 299 kronor for speeds between 5M bps (bits per second) and 10M bps and 10GB of data, and subscribers to Stor (Large) will pay 369 kronor for speeds between 10 and 20M bps and 20GB of data.

Users of its Total 4G package should get between 10M bps and 80M bps, according to TeliaSonera.

It still offers discounts for subscribers that also use its fixed broadband services.

The operator is looking at how it can use and charge for the quality of service features LTE has. The first offers will likely be aimed at enterprises, so they can get the same kind of software level agreements they currently have on fixed networks, according to Hallberg.

Samsung's GT-B3730, which TeliaSonera uses, is still the only multimode LTE USB modem available. Modems from other vendors should arrive in the beginning of next year, according to Hallberg. LTE-compatible smartphones and tablets will be on display at Mobile World Congress, but it will take a year before large volumes are available, Hallberg said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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