LTE goes live in Marseille
French mobile operator Orange on Thursday activated its first LTE coverage area in the city of Marseille, promising connectivity speeds of up to 150Mbps. The operator said Lyon and Nantes will also 4G coverage by the end of the year, followed by 12 other cities by summer 2013.
Orange’s announcement steered well clear of the LTE acronym, instead referring to the technology as 4G only, and promising it to be ten times faster than current 3G speeds.
Orange obtained a combination of 2.6GHz and 800MHz frequencies in late 2011, which it has used for the deployment. However uptake may be slow as the operator acknowledges that compatible devices will only be made available over the coming months.
Telecoms.com recently interviewed Yves Bellego, director of technology strategy for the Orange Group, who spoke frankly about the capacity headache he, and many other CTOs face. “Traffic is doubling almost every year and revenues are not on the same trend. What we’ve been doing is using the best of current technology to increase capacity. Now we are on HSPA+ which had some improvements in terms of throughout – it’s the best available – but LTE will be able to improve spectrum efficiency and will bring us closer to theoretical limits.”
The alternative route, and one which Orange is also pursuing, is just to buy more spectrum. “We tried to get more in the 2.6GHz band and in the 800MHz band to deploy LTE as this is one way to increase capacity,” he says. “In this way cost is not proportional to the capacity increase because a software upgrade to support the spectrum (through Software Defined Radio) means the cost is limited.”
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