TeliaSonera was the first operator in the world to launch a 4G LTE network. We’re talking December 2009 here, a full year before Verizon turned on their 4G LTE network. Now most people accessing said ridiculously high speed network have thus far been doing it via USB modems, but that’s just officially changed. TeliaSonera has announced that they’re selling the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE in Sweden, making it the first phone in Europe to come with 4G LTE. If you sign up for a two year contract you get the phone for free, and your phone bill comes out to 649 Swedish kronor ($97.26). That’s not bad. That package includes 3,000 minutes, 3,000 text messages, and 10 GB of data. We’d like to remind our readers that Europeans don’t pay for incoming calls or text messages. As for what sort of technology is being used to power the voice portion of the Galaxy S II LTE, it’s good old fashioned CSFB (circuit switched fallback). In other words, when you’re connected to the 4G LTE network and someone calls you your device will disconnect from the 4G LTE network, connect to the 3G network, and then route the call through. Supposedly you can’t even notice the lag, though we haven’t tested this ourselves.
Our eagle eyed readers might remember our report on the HTC Velocity. That device was supposed to be the first European 4G LTE smartphone, but it’s still sadly not for sale. Boo hoo for Germany. The bigger question is when exactly will 4G LTE become so common on European smartphones that we can stop calling it a differentiating feature? It says a lot that Nokia announced the “global edition” of the Lumia 900 last week, which essentially takes the 4G LTE radio out and replaces it with a 42 Mbps HSPA+ radio. We honestly have no problems with that since we know that technology is capable of delivering speeds well in excess of 20 Mbps, and in some cases even 30 Mbps.
All this being said, don’t expect 4G LTE to sweep across the continent until at least the middle of 2013. Even then, it’s not like people are screaming for faster mobile broadband.
For more 4G LTE news, check out our LTE section