SK Telecom and LG Uplus, number one and three respectively in South Korea’s mobile market, both claimed a world first on developing three-band carrier aggregation (CA) for LTE-Advanced technology.

Capable of supporting speeds of up to 300Mb/s, SK Telecom told Mobile World Live the three different frequency bands on which it had successfully combined three chunks of spectrum: 20MHz at 1.8GHz; 10MHz at 800MHz; and 10MHz at 2.6GHz.

Last November SK Telecom showcased download speeds of up to 225Mb/s using two-band CA, pooling together 20MHz in the 1.8GHz frequency band and 10MHz at 800MHz.

SK Telecom says customers will be able to take advantage of three-band CA once appropriate chipsets and devices have been developed.

Quoting “industry experts”, SK Telecom reckons this will likely happen by the end of 2014.

According to the Yonhap news agency, LG Uplus also plans to roll out three-band CA this year, combining 40MHz at 2.6GHz band, 20MHz at 800MHz, and 20MHz in 2.1GHz.

Although this is much more spectrum than deployed by SK Telecom, Yonhap reports that South Korea’s third-largest operator will be offering the same LTE-Advanced speeds as its biggest rival this year.

A global standard has yet to be developed for LTE-Advanced using three-band CA but, given its early start on the technology, SK Telecom said it expected to play “a pivotal role” in the standardisation process.

SK Telecom plans to demonstrate its triple-band CA technology at this year’s Mobile World Congress, but will be going one step further by aggregating together three lots of 20MHz. This, says SK Telecom, will give top-line speeds of up to 450Mb/s on LTE-Advanced.

According to GSMA Intelligence, South Korea is the world’s most advanced 4G market with penetration as a percentage of total connections passing the 50 per cent mark in Q4 2013. This compares to around a quarter 4G-user penetration in Japan and the US.