No surprise, Telia's LTE not as fast as promised
Published: 26 January, 2010
There is always a yawning gap between the peak or theoretical data rates promised for new wireless technologies, and their real world performance. The latest operator to suffer a PR problem because of this is TeliaSonera, whose LTE network in Stockholm, the first commercial LTE system in the world, is delivering only 12Mbps.
This falls well short of the firm's marketing promises of "up to 50Mbps", points out research firm Northstream, which conducted the tests. Northstream used a Samsung modem to test the Ericsson network, which runs in 2.6GHz. Upload speeds averaged 5Mbps.
At TeliaSonera's launch event, download speeds of over 40Mbps were demonstrated, but of course a marketing demo was likely to use the optimal position of devices to base stations. Stating the obvious, Northstream CEO Bengt Nordström said: "It seems like the capacity drops off fast as the distance from a base station increases."
Of course, most 3G networks do not deliver even 1Mbps consistently, and so 12Mbps may be very welcome to heavy duty users. Indeed, the main issues raised by such arguments over real versus peak speeds concern how operators communicate with their customers, rather than actual technical performance. Some carriers such as Clearwire have taken the high ground by advertising average rather than peak data rates for their networks, while European cellcos, in particular, have come under mounting pressure from regulators and advertising standards bodies to stop misleading consumers by implying that maximum data rates are the norm.
This is not the first time that Telia's Stockholm network has come under fire. At the end of last year, Huawei claimed that the network it has supplied to Telia, in Norwegian capital Oslo, had reached peak download speeds of 96Mbps, compared to 44Mbps on the Ericsson system in Sweden. However, the Oslo network uses 20MHz of spectrum - the channel size usually assumed when LTE performance statistics are quoted, but in reality rarely available to cellcos. By contrast, the Stockholm build-out has only the more common 10MHz. The controversy over Telia's data rates will revive debate over whether effective 4G deployments really do need wide channels.