Earlier this month, Estonia's largest mobile operator, EMT, announced that it had covered 95 percent of the country with its 4G LTE network.
According to EMT chief executive Valdo Kalm, Estonia is the first country in Europe, and the third in the world, to reach the milestone.
"Sweden and Denmark are the countries competing for the second and third place in Europe with about 50 percent of their territory covered with 4G LTE," he said,
adding that globally only Estonia, Singapore and South Korea have passed the 95 percent mark.
EMT — which is owned by TeliaSonera, the Swedish telecommunications company that launched the world's first commercial 4G network in 2009 — opened Estonia's first
4G network in February 2010, when it was the 11th such network globally at the time.
The second operator to come to the local 4G market was Tele2, the country's third-largest operator, which launched its network in November 2012. It was followed
some months later by second-largest operator Elisa, which launched its LTE network in February this year.
Three of Estonia's mobile operators are preparing to offer LTE-Advanced connectivity later this year in the country's capital, Tallinn. Next year, they hope to extend coverage to bigger towns and more densely-populated areas across the country.
According to the CTO of Tele2 Estonia, Ervins Kampans, during the recent upgrade work on mobile infrastructure in the Baltic states, the company rolled out LTE-Advanced tech capable of offering download speeds of up to 300Mbps. With LTE-A already in place, the company is now waiting for end-user devices to enter the market before opening up the network to the public.
"In the areas where we do have 4G now, we actually have built in LTE-Advanced as well, but it isn't switched on yet. The hardware is ready and to light up the
LTE-Advanced network; we only need to switch on software and adjust it according to the end-user devices," he said.
"The most important question for us now is, when will the end-user devices be ready for commercial use? We are expecting LTE-Advanced internet dongles to arrive first and
then Cat 6 [LTE-category 6 connectivity with download speeds of up to 300Mbps] mobile phones."
Tele2 is the last of the three operators in Estonia to fully cover the country with 4G, having been awarded an 800MHz licence during the country's spectrum auctions only last year.
The operator hopes to achieve 95 percent LTE coverage during the summer months.
EMT, the biggest mobile operator in Estonia, has also started testing LTE-Advanced technology and, according to a spokesperson for the operator,
it's likely to be commercially available to consumers by the end of this year.