LTE delivers faster speeds after new tests, says analyst

More extensive tests show that TeliaSonera’s LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network can deliver faster speeds, up to 45M bps (bits per second), than previous tests indicated, according to market research company Northstream.

During a first round of tests, done in and outside of Northstream’s offices in Stockholm, the connection speed never exceeded 12M bps.

A second round of more thorough tests, conducted over the weekend and on Monday at several spots in central Stockholm, showed LTE in a more positive light, according to a blog post.

The downlink data rates were above 25M bps more often than below, and reached 45M bps on some occasions, Northstream wrote. This number is much closer to the “up to 50M bps” promised by TeliaSonera’s Web site.

The Swedish market research company wrote about its first round of tests in a blog posting on Wednesday and after a story by IDG News Service, the tests were widely reported on. Some of the reports interpreted Northstream’s experience as proof that LTE is not up to par with expectations, which isn’t the case, according to Bengt Nordström, CEO at Northstream.

“I followed the launch of both GSM and 3G, and LTE looks more promising,” said Nordström.

That LTE only delivered 12M bps was a blow for TeliaSonera and Ericsson, which has delivered base stations for the network. A spokeswoman from Ericsson highlighted the results of the second round of tests via e-mail on Tuesday. Neither company put any pressure on Northstream to do more tests, according to Nordström.

In December, TeliaSonera became the first operator in the world to offer commercial LTE services, in the central parts of Stockholm and Oslo.

LTE speeds will vary depending on where you are and the number of users in the network, according to Tommy Ljunggren, head of system development at TeliaSonera. The operator almost always sees speeds between 40M bps and 50M bps when doing its own measurements. It is better than ADSL at home, Ljunggren said.

But the tests also show how challenging it is to build a network using 2.6GHz, which will be one of the most popular LTE frequencies. It is very hard to get good coverage using 2.6GHz, acknowledges Ljunggren. Lower frequencies, including 800MHz, are better suited for that, he said.

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