Vodafone Germany has taken an early lead in the race to launch commercial LTE services after switching on its network earlier this week. The company said that it had around 100 LTE base stations in operation with the aim of providing broadband connections to rural areas.
Meanwhile, its rivals, Deutsche Telekom (DT) and O2 Telefonica, continue to conduct limited trials of LTE, with DT announcing that it was looking for 200 residents in the Brandenburg and Baden-Wuerttemberg regions to test LTE services starting later this month.
Having already trialled LTE in the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm in September 2010, Vodafone Germany said it now planned to upgrade all its base stations to support LTE. The company is looking to cover around 1,500 municipalities by the end of March 2011 with the 4G mobile broadband network. Nationwide coverage is, according to Vodafone, expected to happen in the 'mid term' using infrastructure equipment supplied by Ericsson and Huawei.
Of note, Vodafone Germany said it would make available LTE femtocell routers for home data usage in the New Year.
While not detailing the cost of these LTE femtocells, the company has published its LTE tariffs based upon Samsung dongles costing €1, plus €2.50 per month after that. The data tariffs start at €39.99 per month for the 7.2Mbps service and rise to €69.99 per month for 50Mbps services. The 21Mbps connection costs €49.99 per month.
DT is taking a more cautious route and believes it should be ready to launch commercial LTE services by next April. At this point, DT said it would launch its Call & Surf Comfort via Funk tariff costing around €40 per month. The target areas for LTE will be rural areas without broadband connectivity.
O2 is following a similar path having selected several hundred customers to test LTE for six months, for free. The company said it would provide the USB dongle together with a SIM card with an unlimited data plan. O2 Germany said its LTE network would provide peak download rates of over 93Mbps and upload speeds of over 2Mbps.
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