SK Telecom passes 10M LTE subscriber mark

SK Telecom passes 10M LTE subscriber mark

22 APR 2013

SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile operator, has notched up more than 10 million LTE subscribers since the 4G service was commercially launched in July 2011.

That’s a much faster take-up than SK Telecom’s 3G service, which took over three years to accumulate 10 million subscribers after the WCDMA-based service was launched in May 2006.

The South Korean operator expects to exceed 15 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2013. Plans are also in place to commercially launch LTE-Advanced in September.

According to SK Telecom’s own figures, LTE subscribers now account for 37 per cent of its total mobile subscriber base. SK Telecom claims it has the highest proportion of LTE subscribers of any other operator in the world.

SK Telecom’s LTE network reached 99 per cent of the nation’s population in July 2012. LTE coverage can also be found in underground and in-building areas, says the operator, as well as mountainous and coastal areas.

Helping the operator’s LTE offering, which includes IPTV with around 40 channels, is a wide range of devices. SK Telecom has 33 LTE devices, including 25 smartphones, 5 tablet PCs, 2 USB modems, and 1 LTE-capable camera.

In terms of total LTE connections, SK Telecom ranks fourth in the world according to first-quarter estimates from Wireless intelligence. Verizon Wireless occupies number one spot with 24.9 million LTE connections, followed by Japan’s NTT DoCoMo (11.6 million) and AT&T (10.3 million).

LG Uplus and KT, SK Telecom’s local rivals, have 5.5 million and 4.5 million LTE connections respectively (Q1 2013), according to figures from Wireless Intelligence.

In separate news, the South Korean government announced last week that it would be scrapping mobile sign-up fees for new customers on a step-by-step basis.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning is planning to instruct the country’s three main mobile network operators to cut sign-up fees by 40 per cent this year, 30 per cent next year, then their complete removal by 2015.

SK Telecom currently charges newcomers 39,600 won (US$35) in sign-up fees, while LG Uplus and KT charge 30,000 won and 24,000 won respectively.

Analysts have reportedly predicted that South Korea’s three mobile carriers would immediately take action to avert a sharp drop in their earnings.

Author

Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

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