Vice president, Mobile System Development, Nordic and Baltics, TeliaSonera: “4G roaming is a clear requirement from our customers”

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Tommy Ljunggren, vice president, Mobile System Development, Nordic and Baltics, TeliaSonera about the company’s win for its 4G roaming service in the Best LTE Roaming Product or Service category.

Tell us more about your entry for the LTE Awards 2013

TeliaSonera was first in the world to launch a commercial 4G/LTE service on 14 December 2009. Since then we have been the first operator to launch 4G/LTE in all the Nordic and Baltic countries in which we operate. For these achievements we also won an LTE Awards in 2010 and 2011.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

Our entry this time was based on the fact that we were the first operator in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to launch commercial 4G roaming, and have real life experience from this.

How will your product evolve and improve in the future?

We will continue to launch 4G roaming between the various TeliaSonera operations this year. We actually launched the 4G roaming for our Norwegian customers during the LTE World Summit.  We will potentially even launch roaming with operators outside the TeliaSonera group this year or early next. We see that that 4G roaming is a clear requirement from our customers and they do not understand why they should not be able to use the same excellent service as “back home” when travelling.

In connection to the technical implementation we will continue our work to ensure that the business model supports our customers who wish to use the 4G service when travelling. This means that we will extend our “Surf Abroad” and “Roam Like Home” offers, which ensure that the users know what they will pay in advance and have the power to decide how much the data consumption is worth , when roaming. Hopefully they will find the service worth the price and we will increase the usage.

What trends do you see ahead for the industry for the next 12 months?

–          We will see a lot more 4G roaming contracts made between operators, based on Diameter signalling and IPX. For this to happen we will see international carriers signing peering deals to enable easy rollout of 4G and VoLTE roaming.

–          We will probably see the VoLTE launched in more countries, especially outside Europe.

–          We will see some LTE-A with carrier aggregation launched/tested in countries where the operator have limited bandwidth, i.e. have lower data speeds.

–          Almost all smartphones will have 4G capability and we will even see other devices, such as cameras, equipped with 4G

What are the biggest challenges the lie ahead for LTE?

We still need to improve the 4G coverage world-wide and in Europe. One important step for the industry, Europe in particular, is to kick start the planning for the APT700 MHz band, which seems to be the most promising common low frequency band for 4G roaming world-wide.

VoLTE is most likely not a “walk in the park” either since it requires a very tight quality control not to destroy the user experience when voice calls are handed over between VoLTE and normal CS connections (when outside LTE coverage). We need VoLTE support in large volumes of terminals and extensive 4G coverage before we see any financial benefit (compared to CS Fallback).

What impact has winning this award had for your business?

It strengthens our image as the premier 4G company, and it gives us publicity regarding the fact that we are offering 4G roaming today. It also increased the interests from other operators to set up 4G roaming with us.

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