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TeliaSonera LTE network delivers over 35Mbps average download speed

Photograph of Mark HeathIn his wireless blog, Mark Heath reports on early measurements of one of the first real LTE networks.

With the first LTE networks now being deployed, we will, over the coming months, begin to get a better view of realistic performance levels, based on live measurements. However, since all LTE networks will be under-utilised to begin with, measured speeds will not be representative of the speeds and capacities ultimately to be expected in fully-loaded networks, which may be much lower. So, early adopters should enjoy themselves when they can!

In April 2011, Epitiro published the results of measurements it made on TeliaSonera’s LTE and HSPA (3G) networks in Finland, over a five-day period in March 2011. While these results must be treated with caution, since measurements were based on an under-utilised LTE network in excellent signal conditions, they confirm theoretical performance assessments.

Testing was conducted in the city of Turku in Finland, where strong radio conditions were available.

TeliaSonera launched its LTE network in Finland in November 2010, when it forecast typical speeds of 20–80Mbps.

The Epitiro measurements found:

  • The average download speed for LTE was 36.1Mbps, which is within the 20–80Mbps speed margin claimed by TeliaSonera
  • The average download speed for LTE (36.1Mbps) was 8.8 times higher than HSPA (4.1Mbps)
  • The average latency for LTE was 23ms, which is similar to the latency of fixed DSL networks
  • The average LTE latency (23ms) was significantly lower than 3G latency, which exhibited significant variations, from 98ms to 189ms

The speeds obtained in Finland appear significantly higher than LTE speeds in the USA. Verizon in the USA claims that its LTE network delivers speeds of between 5Mbps and 12Mbps. This can be explained by the fact that Verizon Wireless is using only 2 x 10MHz of spectrum for its LTE networks, compared with 2 x 20MHz of spectrum used by TeliaSonera.

While LTE can flexibly use a variety of spectrum allocations, it gives its best performance, in terms of maximum throughputs and peak rates, using 2 x 20MHz of spectrum. This is why mobile network operators should try to secure the largest amount of contiguous spectrum they can for LTE.

I look forward to reporting on future LTE network measurements.

Dr Mark Heath co-founded Unwired Insight in 2001, to provide analysis and market intelligence for the mobile telecommunications industry. Previously he contributed to the standardisation of GSM, UMTS and DECT and held senior roles for a mobile network operator and equipment manufacturer. Mark has written over 40 industry reports and has advised investors, network operators, equipment vendors, lawyers and government bodies.

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