Update January 2014. The initial introduction of a 4G LTE service was short-lived, in fact it lasted for the 2 days of the November 2012 ASEM Conference. There still is no real confirmation of LTE in Vientiane or elsewhere in Laos. If you go, make local enquiries.
Update July, 2013 – Lao Telecom now expects 4G services to be launched in Vientiane within one month. 60 base stations will cover the urban area. It didn’t happen.
Update November, 2012: 4G LTE available in Vientiane from LaoTel and Beeline. Read post.
On May 16, the Lao Ministry of Post and Telecommunications granted a commercial licence to VimpelCom for Beeline to provide a 4G LTE internet service in Laos, which they are now ready to offer to corporate and high-end customers in Vientiane. Costs have yet to be announced for the high speed (up to 5 times faster than 3G) data service.
A handset, tablet or USB modem will need 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz band capability for use with this 4G/LTE service. LTE 1800/2600 MHz devices produced in Hong Kong/Shenzhen are likely to be compatible while those intended for the US market or countries using the 700/2100 MHz bands, are not. South Korea (home of Samsung and LG), Singapore, the UK and some European operators use the 1800 and 2600 MHz bands. Devices are usually locked into a single network.
An unlocked quad band LTE USB air card/dongle modem such as the Huawei E392 sells for around $200 (1.6M kips). The Samsung Galaxy S II i9210 LTE phone and i957 8.9” tablet are about $750 (6M kips). Note that the Apple iPad 3 (sometimes promoted as 4G) will not work with Beeline LTE but it can still use HSPA+.
To avoid compatibility issues, Beeline Lao suggests that potential users wait for their service to be announced officially in the press, with data cost and suitable hardware recommendations.
As seen in the video below, results are impressive as Beeline continues testing their 4G/LTE service, with more than 50Mbps for download and over 10Mbps upload speeds and very low latency (ping speed). However, it was later alleged by various observers that these results can be achieved by manipulation by the provider and are/were not realistic, even at the time.