Deutsche Telekom launches commercial rural LTE coverage

Germany's largest mobile operator, Deutsche Telekom (DT), has gone live with its LTE network, with an initial focus on providing broadband services to underserved rural areas. DT is obliged by its 800MHz licence conditions to deploy LTE into so-called 'white spot' areas, or those without DSL access, before making the service more generally available across Germany.

However, the company has taken the interesting decision to provide subscribers with a wireless router fitted with a SIM card. The SIM card is location-specific and will only work within designated areas, and does not support mobile LTE access, thereby fulfilling the licence constraints. The company said that a LTE dongle, or ‘surfstick,' was planned and a tariff would be announced shortly.

The new service, branded 'Call & Surf Comfort via Funk,' will be offered at €39.95 per month on a two-year contract and includes Internet access and fixed line calls. The company is offering a €30 credit to customers who sign up before July.

However, DT said that subscribers will only receive download speeds of up to 3 Mbps, and an upload rate of 500 Kbps. The reason for these slower speeds would seem to be that DT will also be using HSPA to provide rural coverage where LTE is not currently on offer. The company said that by the end of the year it will deploy the service in 1,500 locations that do not have broadband access today.

Vodafone Germany has already launched its rural-focused LTE service, but is offering download speeds of up to 50 Mbps for customers willing to pay €39.99 a month. It is also offering a discounted deal of €19.99 for downstream speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps for the first three months of the two-year contract.

For more:
- see this Deutsche Telekom release (via Google translation)
- see this article (via Google translation)
- see this Telecompaper article (sub. req.)

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