Update December 2013 – There was no 4G LTE internet in Laos for most of 2013. Both Lao Telecom and Beeline promised this for over two years! No confirmation (in English anyway) on their websites. The Lao Telecom website is impossible to navigate or get clear information about their internet plans – either in English or Lao language! If anyone has a source, please post a comment. Thank you!
Previous update November 2012
A 4G LTE internet service for Laos apparently appeared briefly in the capital Vientiane in November when Lao Telecom (LTC) opened its new high-speed service exclusively for delegates attending the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM) held on November 5th and 6th. The nearest one of the planned 20 base stations to the convention centre was powered up for this purpose. No feedback has been published.
The remaining 19 stations (a list of locations is available in Lao only) are expected to give 4G coverage to the rest of the city and suburbs within perhaps a 5km radius, but service will not be available to the public before January 2013 at the earliest, according to head office personnel. The network infrastructure is from Huawei (China). Costs to the user of the proposed 4G/LTE service (initially data-only, with voice/video call and other features to follow) have been released and are available on request at LTC’s Saylom HQ.
A Huawei E392 4G USB modem (badged M Broadband) will sell together with 4G SIM for 1 million kips ($125). ‘Unlimited’ data cost is 300,000 kips ($37.50) for 10-days or monthly for 700,000 kips ($87.50). The plans have been included on our Lao Internet Data Plans page, although the launch date for any Lao LTE service to the public is still unknown.
Beeline Lao (VimpelCom) town office staff also cannot provide an opening date for their 4G LTE network, but it too is not expected before 2013. No details are available regarding hardware or data options, although it’s believed that monthly data transfer cost will (have to) be comparable with LaoTel’s future offering.
Both Lao 4G LTE FDD/TDD networks operate on the 2,600MHz frequency band (compatible with European and some Asian systems rather than American which mostly use 700MHz).
Although the Huawei E392 air card (retail price around $250/£160) was apparently the first multi-mode USB modem incorporating 4G LTE FDD technology as well as compatible (automatic switching) with 2G/3G UMTS, GSM and CDMA mobile networks, the slightly cheaper ZTE MF820 has similar specs. LTC will supply its Huawei E392 for about half its current retail price and it may be unlockable through DC-Unlocker or other service.
Apart from heavy discounting on the hardware, the data cost of Lao 4G/LTE services will be much higher than for 3G HSPA/HSPA+. As yet there is no way for users to evaluate or compare performance between the two.