Driver, follow that LTE signal: ten short stories from the wireless week

Ten snippets from around the wireless world this week.

1 NSN announced an LTE contract with TIM Brasil. The operator, which already supplied TIM with its 2G and 3G kit, managed to score a hat-trick with an LTE supply contract for its SingleRAN radio access technology. LTE service should be in place through 2013, in time for the Confederations Cup and then the football world cup in 2014.

“2G and 3G equipment installed by the company is performing so well that it was a natural decision to deploy an LTE network with the same vendor,” said Marco di Costanzo, Head of Mobile Network, TIM Brasil.

2 Staying with NSN, the vendor notched another mark on its LTE scoresheet with a goal in Thailand, this time for a 3G network at 2100MHz for AIS. AIS, which had 4.5 million 3G 900MHz network users at the beginning of January, is targeting a total of eight million 3G subscribers by the end of the year, while its 2100MHz rollout is expected to reach 50% population coverage by mid-year, 80% by the start of 2014 and 97% coverage within three years.

This time the “supportive quote” came from Saran Phaloprakarn, vice president of network strategic planning at AIS, who said: “We needed a partner who understands our business.” Rival Thai operator DTAC awarded Ericsson its 3G business earlier in the year.

3 In France, operators are playing LTE coverage wars. From 4 April, Orange will open its 4G network in ten new cities and surrounding areas (Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Chartres, Orleans, Dunkerque, Nancy, Metz, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble and Annecy). In addition, paris is getting more coverage. following the launch of 4G in the Paris Opera area on 28 January, the city’s 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th districts will be added to the list.

Orange also announced that it would also have LTE in 21 additional “agglomerations”, from June this year.

4 Although there was no official announcement, Bouygues CEO gave an interview to Le Figaro in which he said the operator would have a clutch of cities covered by October using 2.6GHz technology. The operator is also planning on opening 1800LTE as soon as it can, following regulatory approval.

5 Over the border in Switzerland, Swisscom said that it now has 300,000 LTE customers, with 35 percent of the Swiss population covered for LTE, and a target of 70 percent by the end of 2013. The operator added it would invest around $1.6 billion in its mobile network up to 2017.

Yoigo is a most unusual operator, running on an almost skeleton staff and using managed services contracts for much of its customer care and technology operations

6 Vodafone and China Mobile said they have jointly bid for one of the telecom licenses going up for grabs in Myanmar.

7 But there was less good news in operators over in Bahrain, where the regulator has called a halt to its license process following protests from WiMax operator Menatelecom.

8 The Cloud has said that a quarter of British people use public WiFi hotspots every week. The first ten weeks of 2013 saw 800 million megabytes of data go over “High Street WiFi” in the UK, The Cloud said. That’s turning the High Street into the i-street, the service provider said. Check out this Infographic from The Cloud if you want some more numbers.

9 EE, which is making a network announcement on Tuesday of next week title “One Step Ahead” got a few car lengths ahead this week as it fitter LTE enabled Mi-Fi routers into 50 taxis in London and Birmingham. Each car has been fitted with a Mi-Fi wireless router that uses EE’s LTE network as backhaul. “Driver, follow that LTE signal”.

10 TeliaSonera has said it will not now sell its Spanish subsidiary. Reports indicated that the market didn’t value the asset as highly as Telia Sonera did. Yoigo is a most unusual operator, running on an almost skeleton staff and using managed services contracts for much of its customer care and technology operations, as well as a franchise model for its retail presence. It based its early low-cost model on doing to the Spanish operators as incumbent Telia had been done to in Sweden – ie operating at a very low cost base in order to provide low cost deals to consumers.