It seems that I was wrong the other day about HTC bringing the first LTE phone to Europe via Vodafone. While the HTC is little while off, according to ITWorld, the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE is apparently winging its way to stores in Sweden. The country, along with Norway, has had an LTE service since TeliaSonera launched in 2009, making it one of the first launches in the world. However, up till now there have been no smartphones available, which compares unfavourably with the US, which has a whole bunch on offer on AT&T, Verizon and even ‘lil ol’ Metro PCS.
The reason is simply one of economies of scale. As all LTE phone in the US operate on one of the 700MHz bands and there’s quite a large market, it’s worth it for it for Samsung and HTC to produce LTE phones. In Europe, LTE has been scarcer than a train running on time on my work commute, so there’s been little incentive for the device manufacturers to produce one.
Now it seems that smartphones are beginning to trickle through, and no doubt we’ll see a lot more LTE related announcement at Mobile World Congress in a couple of weeks. What we want is it to turn into a flood and the damn holding it back though is likely to be the UK (damn UK).
It might not be the largest but there’s no doubt that the UK is one of the major markets in Europe, and as the LTE auction isn’t even taking place until later in the year no one is expecting a live network until 2014 at the earliest. The sluggishness of the UK market could well have a knock on effect on the whole of the European smartphone LTE market. Once European users start carrying LTE enabled handset it might spur the UK operators to make sure they stop their bickering and press on with their LTE plans.
Samsung beating HTC to the punch is also another blow for the Taiwanese manufacturer which has recently been struggling with poor recent results, mainly down to the rise of Samsung’s Galaxy line.
Is there an LTE network on its way near you? Do you already use LTE but are you frustrated at the lack of a compatible handset?