South Korea’s SKT, KT ramp up LTE-A – Mobile World Live

South Korea’s SKT, KT ramp up LTE-A

05 SEP 2013

With more 4G spectrum at their disposal following an auction completed last Friday (30 August), South Korea’s two biggest operators – SK Telecom (SKT) and Korea Telecom (KT) – have both announced plans to ramp up LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

SKT, which already has LTE-A up and running, announced today (5 September) that it would use its newly-acquired 1800MHz spectrum (20MHz on the downlink and 15MHz on the uplink) to offer an LTE service that supports download speeds of up to 150Mb/s.

All LTE-A devices will operate on the wider LTE bandwidth, while users of existing LTE devices – said SKT – will be able to access up to 100Mb/s over the LTE network without having to pay extra.

SK Telecom will begin offering the LTE service (using wider spectrum channels) in the Seoul Metropolitan Area by the end of 2013, aiming for nationwide coverage by July 2014.

Using LTE-A based on carrier aggregation, SK Telecom plans to combine its bandwidth at 1800MHz (20MHz) and 800 MHz (10MHz) to offer downlink speeds of up to 225Mb/s by next year.

SKT’s LTE-A service was available in central areas of 84 cities nationwide as of 30 July. The operator plans to build a total of 32,000 LTE-A base stations by the end of this year to cover more areas of the 84 cities, as well as 300 universities across the country.

On Monday (2 September) KT announced that it would launch LTE-A services based on newly-acquired 1800MHz spectrum by the end of the month. The new bandwidth, according to a report from The Korea Herald, will be aggregated with an adjacent KT-held bandwidth to allow LTE-A services without much additional cost.

KT reportedly said this was more convenient than LTE-A using carrier aggregation, as LTE subscribers would have to buy additional handsets to receive LTE-A services.

KT’s LTE-A services will offer downlink speeds of up to 150 Mb/s, while existing LTE users can access up to 100Mb/s without changing their device.

“KT’s relatively weak network branding recognition due to the delay of LTE-A will be recovered by securing the connected bandwidth,” said Won Hyung-woon, a researcher at Seoul-based Dong-Bu Securities, quoted by The Korea Herald. “Its competitive edge in LTE-A services is expected to bring more subscribers.”

KT’s LTE-A services will be initially available in the Seoul area and be expanded into five other metropolitan cities next March. Nationwide coverage is planned for next July.

LG U+, South Korea’s third-largest operator, commercially launched LTE-A – based on carrier aggregation – in July. It offers speeds of up to 150Mb/s.

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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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