Our blog post of December 16 said that Northstream was among the first to sign up for Telia’s LTE service, and was placed on the waiting list to receive an exclusive handmade LTE modem from Samsung.
Today we collected our prize [the 4G dongle]. Was it worth waiting for? Well, they say that good things come to those who wait, and while we found that to be true we also sense that better things may come to those who wait longer.
We decided to be adventurous, and politely declined Telia’s offer to help us install the new modem on our laptop. It turned out to be less of an adventure than we hoped for; to no big surprise both connection manager software and modem firmware required an immediate upgrade, but who needs support when everything runs automatic? Well done!
After a routine re-boot (after all, it’s Microsoft…) we were ready to go LTE. We quickly found out that the signal strength indicator, showing zero in one end of our office building made out of massive stone, peaked to full strength at the window sill of one of our conference rooms. And, alas! One click and we could consider ourselves early LTE adopters!
Our immediate reaction is that the browsing experience was rather good, probably thanks to the low latency compared to 3G networks. But the throughput measurements were sort of a disappointment as we after countless tests, of which many were performed outdoors to eliminate any problems related to indoor coverage, never exceeded 12 Mbps in downlink.
More impressive in that case was the 5 Mbps uplink. But what really reminded us of the early days we’re still in were the rather frequent drops in service, even at locations where the signal strength indicators were maxed out just a second earlier.
But considering that Rome wasn’t built in a day, our first LTE experience is a very positive one. It works, and that’s respectable. Ok, we don’t have indoor coverage in the office, and even outdoors with full signal strength the service comes and goes, but admittedly we were skeptical to the chance of getting a commercial grade service from day 1.
In any case, we conclude that the industry still has several challenges ahead, but Telia indeed contribute to speed up overcoming these by being the first operator to run a large scale LTE trial (our term). And while this first touch and feel encourages us to jump on the next upgrade as soon as it comes, we’re quite happy as well to fall back on the complimentary HSPA modem that was included in the LTE deal; it actually provides similar peak rates as LTE but without the drops, and that’s quite impressing too.
We have continued our live testing of LTE over the weekend and today, and we have tried it on buses and in cars and in other places in the city, indoor and outdoor, and we’re happy to say that we experience data rates above 25 Mbps more often than below, and we’ve reached 45 Mpbs downlink on some occasions. Maybe our blog posting made an impact after all.. :)
So to conclude, we would like to emphasise that we do not claim that our test methods are very scientific. Our results should preferably not be interpreted as such either. That time will come, and rest assured we will be there, but for now we’re just trying out the service as ‘simple users’ and we’re impressed it works, encouraged by the bitrates we are now measuring and convinced that in due course early flaws will be corrected.
We intend to continue our trials throughout the week and onwards, and will regularly report on our experiences and findings, all for the good of the industry’s strive to keep on improving!