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November 2, 2010
The rush to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) to rural Germany has picked up pace since Vodafone Germany announced that it has activated nine LTE base stations in five regions of the country.
The German operator said it will switch on the new mobile broadband network later this month, and start shipping LTE dongles from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) to customers in December, in a statement (released only in German). So, the network isn't commercial just yet.
Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG are in a three-way race to blanket the German countryside with LTE using the 800MHz spectrum they each acquired in the national auction in May this year to meet the regulatory obligations attached to the licenses. The three 800MHz license holders are required to build out LTE to 90 percent of designated areas that have no, or inadequate, broadband access -- so-called "white spots" -- before they can roll out LTE in more populous areas. (See German Operators Get Busy With LTE , O2 Germany Preps LTE Pilots, DT Takes First Orders for LTE Service , and German Spectrum Auction Ends, Raises €4.4B.)
According to a Vodafone Germany spokesman, the operator has 20 more LTE base stations ready to go live, but they are awaiting approval by the regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) before they can be switched on, which is standard practice in the country any time a new base station is deployed.
Vodafone is using existing cell sites to build out the LTE network, because constructing new sites would be expensive and time consuming. The operator doesn’t say how much it will spend on the 800MHz LTE rollout to cover the white spot areas, but estimates the figure will be in the low hundreds of millions of euros.
Last month, the operator released pricing details for the LTE Zuhause ("LTE at Home") service and has started taking orders from customers for the LTE dongles. Vodafone will have three different LTE tariffs and service levels: €69.99 (US$98) per month for 50Mbit/s downlink speeds, 10Mbits/ uplink, and a monthly data limit of 30 Gbytes; €49.99 (US$70) per month for 21.6 Mbit/s downlink, 7.2Mbit/s uplink, and 15Gbytes per month; and €39.99 (US$56) for 7.2Mbit/s downlink, 1.4Mbit/s uplink, and 10Gbytes of data usage. (See Vodafone Prices LTE .)
Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom both expect to launch commercial LTE services by the end of this year. Vodafone has selected Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to supply the network equipment; while Deutsche Telekom has chosen to deploy gear from Nokia Networks and Huawei. (See Ericsson, Huawei Land Vodafone LTE Gig and DT Does LTE With NSN .)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile
Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.
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