France Telecom's Orange Spain said it will launch commercial LTE services in six cities on July 8, which means that the operator would just beat rival Yoigo to market after the TeliaSonera subsidiary earlier said it would launch LTE on July 18.
Orange Spain confirmed in a press release that it would add nine cities by the end of the year and would then make the services available to 12 million Spaniards. It said it plans to cover all of Spain's provincial capitals in 2014. However, Reuters noted that the operator has not confirmed if it will charge a premium for the advanced services. Yoigo said it would not charge existing 3G users extra for its LTE plans.
Orange Spain said it is investing €1.1 billion in its network, of which €700 million is for specific investments in LTE including the acquisition of spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands.
Orange Spain will initially use its frequencies in the 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands for the early launch and will later utilise the prized 800 MHz frequencies. It added that it will use its current 15,000 base station locations for the deployment of the high-speed technology, and will add new smartphones and tablets to support the services in the coming months.
LTE could give Orange and Yoigo an edge in Spain's highly competitive mobile services market, where the two biggest players, Telefónica and Vodafone Spain, have lost share to cheaper rivals including MVNOs over the past year. The two larger operators have yet to confirm their plans to launch LTE services in the market.
Orange further added that by 2015, the France Telecom-Orange Group is committed to delivering LTE networks in all European countries in which it operates. Orange has commercially launched LTE services in seven countries: France, UK, Romania, the Dominican Republic, Moldova, Luxembourg and Mauritius, and said it is serving around 500,000 people with the technology.
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