Telenor Norway will ditch 3G before 2G, as LTE rollouts gather pace in northern territories

Telenor Norway's director of coverage said the operator's LTE (4G) network will match its 2G network in terms of coverage within five years, and that the operator is moving ahead with plans to launch voice over LTE (VoLTE) this year.

Bjørn Amundsen revealed that the operator had deployed LTE in 42 of 87 municipalities in key northern territories by the end of May, leaving it on track to hit its target of covering all municipalities in northern Norway by the end of 2016. In a statement, Amundsen also revealed that Telenor Norway plans to phase out its 2G network within a decade, and could ditch 3G sooner.

The director of coverage said Telenor Norway's LTE network is currently data only, but that "voice will come later this year." For the moment, mobile data usage is increasing by around 80 per cent each year, and the company's mobile broadband networks can deliver "theoretical speeds up to 300 Mbps in some places," Amundsen noted.

In a related presentation to analysts and investors, Telenor Norway CTO Magnus Zetterberg said the operator will maintain its 2G network longer than its 3G network due to device compatibility issues, and growing machine-to-machine (M2M) service launches, which currently use the legacy networks, Mobile World Live reported.

The thread was picked up by Amundsen, who noted that subscribers need smartphones and tablet PCs that can access all frequency bands currently in use. "For example, we have these days removed almost all use of 2G 1800 rate, and started using them for 4G. Without a mobile that supports this helps you little," he said.

Device compatibility is likely to become a more important factor moving forward, as Telenor Norway gears up to refarm frequencies currently used for 2G and 3G for LTE. "Frequencies are a limited resource, and the challenge today is that we occupy many frequencies for 2G and 3G network. Several of these frequencies will eventually be used…[for] 4G network," Amundsen said.

For more:
- view this Telenor Norway statement [in Norwegian]
- read this Mobile World Live report

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