Network operator TeliaSonera plans to start shipping the world's first dual-mode modem for LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and 3G mobile networks on Wednesday.
TeliaSonera became the first operator to launch a commercial LTE network in December last year. At the time it was only able to offer subscribers an LTE-only modem, but promised to have a dual-mode modem available in the second quarter of 2010, which it seems to have managed by the smallest possible margin. TeliaSonera doesn't want to say how many of the modems it has available, according to a spokeswoman.
The Samsung GT-B3730 modem allows subscribers to access the Internet over LTE or HSPA+ (High-Speed Packet Access) at real-world download speeds of up to 80M bps (bits per second) and 16M bps, respectively, according to TeliaSonera.
The modem plugs into a computer's USB port, and works with Windows XP, Vista and 7, and Mac OS 10.5 or 10.6, the operator said.
For users, being at the bleeding edge of mobile broadband means there are still some usability issues. The modem cannot automatically switch between LTE and HSPA+ networks, according to TeliaSonera. Instead, the user has to shut down the connection and then reconnect when moving between the two networks. Software upgrades to networks and modems will make seamless switching a possibility in the beginning of next year, TeliaSonera said.
TeliaSonera isn't offering much detail on how its LTE push has gone so far, only saying that it has "thousands of subscribers" on its Swedish network, the spokeswoman said. That compares to a total of about 500,000 mobile broadband subscribers, she said.
Until the end of the year, TeliaSonera's LTE subscription costs 359 Swedish kronor (US$51) per month for up to 30GB of data. After that it will cost 599 Swedish kronor. A regular 3G subscription, with a 20GB data cap, costs 99 Swedish kronor until the end of the year. It normally costs 319 Swedish kronor, according to TeliaSonera's Web site.