Vodafone Beats Deutsche Telekom to LTE Launch

Vodafone Germany 's commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) service launch is set for just two days away on December 1, which will make the operator the first out of the starting blocks in the country's next-generation mobile broadband race.

From this Wednesday, Vodafone will offer an LTE-only USB stick from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) to consumers and businesses in areas where there is inadequate broadband access -- so-called "white spots." News of the launch date was first reported by German magazine Focus and confirmed by Light Reading Mobile.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) said today that it will launch commercial LTE services in areas with no DSL access in April next year, which will give Vodafone a four-month head start in offering the mobile broadband services. (See Deutsche Telekom Sets LTE Launch Data.)

At launch this week, Vodafone will have hundreds of LTE sites active. By the end of March 2011, Vodafone expects to cover 1,500 municipalities. (See Vodafone Germany Gears Up for LTE .)

In the first quarter next year, Vodafone plans to add an LTE/WLAN router to its LTE device lineup.

Vodafone will offer three tiers of monthly prices for its LTE Zuhause ("LTE at Home") service: €69.99 (US$91) per month for up to 50Mbit/s downlink speeds, 10Mbit/s uplink, and up to 30GBytes; €49.99 ($55) per month for 21.6Mbit/s downlink, 7.2Mbit/s uplink, and 15GBytes of data; and €39.99 ($52) for 7.2Mbit/s downlink, 1.4Mbit/s uplink, and 10GBytes of data usage. (See Vodafone Prices LTE .)

Why this matters
Vodafone's launch this week marks several industry "firsts": it's the first commercial LTE service in Germany; the first LTE service in 800MHz spectrum in Europe; and the first time that LTE is used specifically as a DSL replacement technology.

Vodafone's initial LTE service -- and the ones to come from Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG -- are important not only from a technology point of view, but also from a public policy point of view. The German government has required these operators -- the three winners of 800MHz spectrum licenses in the auction in May this year -- to use this spectrum to cover areas in the country where there is poor or no broadband, thereby using the emerging mobile technology LTE to fulfill its national broadband targets.

For more
For more on LTE in Germany, check out these stories:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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