TeliaSonera’s Estonia subsidiary Eesti Mobiiltelefon (EMT) has expanded its 4G network to cover around 95% of the country’s territory, the Swedish group has confirmed. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, on the back of acquiring spectrum in the 800MHz band via a beauty contest conducted by the Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority (ETSA) in May 2013, EMT outlined plans to use the frequencies to boost its 4G population coverage level to 95% by mid-June 2013. This target date was some six months ahead of its initial schedule, with the operator having previously said in March 2013 that it intended to achieve the aforementioned coverage level by the end of the year.
In announcing the milestone, Tommy Ljunggren, Head of System Development at TeliaSonera Mobility Services, said: ‘Without the spectrum in 800MHz it would take years to cover the 95% of the land area. By securing the 800MHz spectrum, we were able to do it in two weeks.’ With EMT having reportedly achieved its target by 16 June, TeliaSonera claims that the Estonian unit offers ‘the best [4G] coverage in Europe’.
Meanwhile, in separate but related news, following the revelation regarding EMT’s coverage achievements, Estonian Public Broadcasting claims that both of the cellco’s major rivals – Elisa and Tele2 Eesti – have postponed plans to launch 4G services for mobile handsets. At present only EMT offers LTE-based services for mobile handsets, and despite both of its rivals having been expected to introduce such tariffs in the first half of 2013, the report cites Elisa’s chairman Andrus Hiiepuu as saying that the lack of 4G-supported devices was the main factor in the company’s decision to change its plans. As such, Elisa is now thought to be targeting a launch of mobile handset 4G services in the second half of 2013. Meanwhile, Tele2 Eesti spokesperson Hans Saarvelt noted: ‘We analysed how few users are using 4G on their mobiles and decided to save EUR50,000 of the customers’ money. We will open the service at the beginning of the next year.’