Sweden's TeliaSonera has implemented 4G mobile networking in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. The LTE deployment is ahead of the projected schedule and makes TeliaSonera the first in the world to implement commercially-available 4G wireless.
The initial rollout is only accessible via a Samsung USB dongle, but 4G-capable handsets are expected to become available in 2010. The 4G technology is theoretically capable of data speeds up to 100Mbps. TeliaSonera is advertising the service at speeds ranging from 20Mbps to 80Mbps.
Even on the low end of the TeliaSonera 4G service offerings, the advertised speed is nearly seven times faster than AT&T's 3G network, which has been determined to be the fastest 3G available in the United States. The 80Mbps service is a blazing 22 times faster than the AT&T 3G speeds.
Right now, that blazing speed is all the 4G network has to offer, though. Aside from being significantly faster than existing wireless networks, there is nothing compelling about 4G or LTE. As 4G becomes more mainstream and begins to replace 3G networks around the world, you can expect new applications designed specifically to capitalize on the increased bandwidth.
In the United States, the attention is still focused on 3G bragging rights. Verizon has an entire marketing campaign built around illustrating that it has five times the 3G network coverage as AT&T. Those ads led to legal wrangling between Verizon and AT&T. No sooner was that litigation settled, than Verizon turned around and picked a fight with Sprint over its claim to have the most reliable 3G.
I am not suggesting, though, that U.S. wireless providers aren't also planning for the future of wireless networking. AT&T is reportedly working on doubling 3G speeds, while also developing plans for rolling out 4G. Sprint and Verizon are currently pilot testing 4G networking. Verizon is expected to introduce LTE access in certain markets in 2010.
With the exponential increase in data bandwidth demands resulting from the increase in smartphone usage and users downloading more email, more text messages, surfing the Web, and watching YouTube videos- 4G can't come fast enough.
The advent of unified communications, and the convergence of social networking with traditional forms of communication have blurred the line between computing and mobile handsets. Business professionals armed with advanced smartphones will be able to access network resources, stream presentations, and participate in video conferences from their mobile devices--assuming the wireless bandwidth can meet the capacity necessary for such data-intense tasks.