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Telenor to Test Huawei LTE

BERLIN -- LTE World Summit -- Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is ready to take Long Term Evolution (LTE) out of the lab and into the real world as it prepares to launch a field trial this summer in Oslo.

The operator will test LTE radio access and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , according to Hans Erik Karsten, VP of network technologies at Telenor's research and innovation unit, speaking here at the LTE World Summit.

The selection of Huawei is only for the field trial, but the operator also has issued a separate request for quotation (RFQ) for LTE equipment that will cover all of Telenor's operations in the Nordic region, Karsten told Unstrung.

In Sweden, for example, Telenor recently formed a joint venture with Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) to pool their 900 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum assets and roll out a national LTE network. Karsten says Telenor will deploy LTE "as soon as possible" in Sweden, where its rival, Telia Company , has ambitious plans to launch LTE in 2010. (See Swedish Operators Join Forces in LTE Race, TeliaSonera: We'll Do 4G in 2010, and MWC 2009: The Need for Speed.)

"LTE can be used for solving problems with really red hot spots in cities, where 20 percent of base stations are in complete overload, while other base stations use only 15 percent to 20 percent capacity," he says. "In that way, LTE can be an important piece of the puzzle for solving the customer experience."

But beyond hotspot coverage, Karsten noted that opinions vary about how many LTE base stations will be needed to provide continuous coverage in urban areas. "This forces us to think about femtocells. Femtocells will play an important role in the future, much more than we anticipated."

Huawei, meanwhile, will be busy with LTE in Oslo this summer. The Chinese vendor is already supplying TeliaSonera's LTE network in the city and now will support Telenor's field trial with LTE gear.

In Norway, Telenor was awarded 4x20 MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum in November 2007. The country will be Telenor's second market to launch LTE after Sweden. (See Craig Goes to Norway, Telenor Bags 4G Spectrum, and Swedish 4G.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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