Sunday 12 December 2021

Sweden is Nordic 5G Laggard

Sweden’s telecom market includes mature mobile and broadband sectors have been greatly stimulated by the progressive investment of the main MNOs in developing new technologies. The country retains one of the best developed LTE infrastructures in the region, while its MNOs have benefited from the January 2021 auction of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band which will enable them to expand services nationally.

Sweden has 4 physical network operators: Telia, Tele2 using brand name Comviq, Telenor (formerly Vodafone Sweden) and 3 (Tre).

However, all the 4 physical networks share 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G with at least one other network:

Telia runs its own 2G and 4G LTE networks. Its 3G network on 2100 MHz is shared with Tele2, while it has an own 3G network on the 900 MHz band.

Tele2 operates all its networks in cooperation with other operators: Tele2's 2G and 4G are shared with Telenor, while its 3G is shared with Telia.

Telenor's 2G and 4G networks are shared with Tele2, 3G is shared with 3 outside Stockholm, Gothenborg, Malmö, Lund and Karlskrona, where they have their own.

3 is the only Swedish network without any 2G. They currently have two different 3G networks, one on the 2100 MHz band, shared with Telenor (except in the cities named above), and one on the 900 MHz band, that they don't share. They have also built their own 4G network.

In 2021 Telia is market leader with the best coverage and 36% of customers, followed by Tele2 with 27% and Telenor with 19% and 3 with 15% in last position.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz like everywhere in Europe, 3G is on 900 and 2100 MHz. Tre does not have a 2G network.

All major 4 Swedish operators support 4G/LTE. Tele2 and Telenor have a joint LTE network called Net4Mobility claiming 99.5% coverage. LTE is on all carriers on 2600 MHz (band 7) in the cities. 800 MHz (band 20), 900 MHz (band 8, only on Net4Mobility) and 1800 MHz (band 3) frequencies are used additionally. Tre offers TDD-LTE on 2600 MHz (band 38) and FDD-LTE on 2100 MHz (band 1) in some locations. From 2019 700 MHz (Band 28) will be added by Telia and Net4Mobility.

5G started to be available in Sweden during 2020 on some postpaid subscriptions on the four big operators and since September 2021 on some high-data Comviq postpaid plans, though not on prepaid and MVNO yet. Physically, 3 different 5G networks are being built: Telia and Tre will build their own networks, while Tele2 and Telenor continuing with their joint network Net4Mobility. Frequencies on 700 MHz (n28), 2300 MHz (n40) and 3500 MHz (n78) were auctioned to 4 providers in 2018 and 2021.

Both 2G and 3G are being phased out and are planned to terminated by 2025. Telia has announced that it will shutdown it's 2G network by 2025, but has started with its phase out. Telia has also said that it's own 3G network will shut down at the latest 2025, but it will dismantle individual sites as time goes. Tele2 has said that it's shared 3G network (that has been built with Telia) is being phased out since 2021 and will be completed at the latest 2025. So for data you need to have a device for 4G/LTE on the frequencies mentioned above, while a basic service will be maintained on 2G and 3G up to 2025 for voice and SMS services.

The OpenSignal June 2021 report on Sweden reveals a varied picture with three of the four national operators winning — or sharing the win — in at least three of the seven mobile experience categories. Telia solely wins Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and 4G Coverage Experience, while sharing the victory in Games Experience and 4G Availability. 3 leads in Video Experience and jointly wins Games Experience and Voice App Experience. Tele2 is a joint winner in Games Experience, Voice App Experience and 4G Availability.

Telia, owned by the Swedish Telia Company is market leader in Sweden with the best coverage nationwide in 2G, 3G, 4G and (on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz): 4G/LTE is available for all prepaid products with up to 100 Mbit/s speed.

If one is visiting northern Sweden and intending to stay out of cities, then Telia or its subbrand Halebop will probably be the only network that has coverage.

In May 2020, Telia launched Sweden's first large-scale public 5G network in Stockholm. 5G is now being rolled out at a high pace from SkĂ„ne to Lappland and is already available in 22 cities. And in doing so, Telia managed to beat the Swedish 5G speed record. Telia collaborating with Ericsson means that 5G will have the same coverage as today's 4G network, in the period leading up to 2025 (covering 90 percent of Sweden’s geography and more than 99 percent of the population). As early as 2023, the 5G network will cover more than 90% of the population. 4G capacity will also double as part of the mobile network modernization. Telia’s 5G network uses higher frequency bands, such as 3.5 GHz, in densely populated areas with a lot of connected people and things using the network. The higher frequency bands are also used to build local, dedicated 5G networks for e.g., industry, ports, and hospitals. The lower frequency bands, such as 700 MHz, are used in rural areas to be able to offer good coverage and connection.

Comviq is a subsidiary of Tele2 in Sweden. That's why it uses the Tele2 and Telenor network on 2G, the Tele2 and Telia networks on 3G and Net4Mobility (= Tele2 and Telenor) on 4G with up to 80 Mbps speed. In September 2021, 5G on Net4Mobility was opened up to some high-data Comviq postpaid plans with up to 100 Mbps speed, but is not open for prepaid yet.

Tele2 doesn't sell own prepaid SIMs anymore, they are geared to contract customers and channel all prepaid products through their Comviq brand. They have a 99+% coverage on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE.

Tele2 said it had switched on its commercial 5G network on May 24 2020. The operator said that the company’s customers will be able to enjoy the next generation mobile network in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. 5G services will be offered using 80 megahertz bandwidth on C-Band spectrum.

Telenor has a good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network up to 450 Mbps is available on Net4Moblity for prepaid too.

Telenor Sweden activated its 5G network in October 2020 in central Stockholm, marking the launch of nationwide roll-out using the new technology. The operator said the 5G network will provide internet access at 1 Gbps to customers with a compatible handset and a Telenor 5G-ready 30 GB, 75 GB or Unlimited subscription. The Telenor network uses 80 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.7 GHz band, which is shared with Tele2 via their Net4Mobility joint venture.

The next cities to get 5G will be Gothenburg and Malmö, and then the new network technology will reach cities with over 50,000 inhabitants, and finally, smaller towns. Telenor also said that it expects its 5G network to cover 99% of Sweden’s population by 2023.

3 (called "Tre") in Sweden has good speeds in 3G (on 900 and 2100 MHz) and 4G/LTE on (800, 2100 and 2600 MHz, partly as TD-LTE on band 38): Tre 3G and 4G coverage. Have in mind that Tre doesn't operate a 2G network and has no 2G roaming. You'll need to have a 3G or 4G device for using the Tre network. International roaming is blocked for all prepaid lines, you will be able to use their SIMs in Sweden only.

Tre Sweden (3 Sweden) officially launched its 5G network in June 2020 in Malmö, Helsingborg, Lund, VÀsterÄs, Uppsala and large parts of Stockholm. In December 2019, the Operator was the first in Sweden to launch a trial 5G network - then in southern Stockholm.

With nearly 400 active 5G masts, half of them in Stockholm, Tre said that it now has Sweden's most developed 5G network. The 5G network is activated using Tres' existing frequency spectrum.

All private customers with a 3Surf subscription from Tre and a 3G mobile from Tre, can access to the new 5G network at no extra cost. The same applies to corporate customers who have subscribed after January 15, 2019.

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