South Korea’s largest mobile operator SK Telecom (SKT) has completed the nationwide commercial rollout of a low-power wide area (LPWA) network based on LoRa technology and outlined its pricing for Internet of Things (IoT) services.

The LoRa infrastructure reaches 99 per cent of the population and was completed at the end of June, six months ahead of schedule, SKT said.

By deploying both nationwide LTE-M and LoRaWAN networks, the operator said it is “now fully ready to create valuable business opportunities in the IoT era”. It completed the nationwide LTE-M rollout in March, which relies on 3GPP-backed cellular standards. LoRa technology is based on a proprietary offering from the LoRa alliance.

In May it announced Samsung as its networking partner for the “world’s first commercial IoT-dedicated nationwide LoRAWAN network”.

With an investment of KRW100 billion ($87 million), it expects to drive the rapid expansion of the IoT industry by connecting more than four million devices to its IoT-dedicated networks by the end of 2017.

The operator also announced price plans for LoRa-based IoT services. “To promote the growth of the IoT market, SKT plans to offer attractive price plans and develop innovative IoT services, while offering strong support for SMEs,” it said in a statement.

The Band IoT plans come in six different tiers – i.e. from Band IoT 35 priced at KRW350 (about $0.30) to Band IoT 200 priced at KRW2,000 (about $1.75) – depending on data use to allow both enterprises and consumer customers to choose one that suits the needs of their services.

SKT said the Band Lora plans cost just one-tenth of its LTE-based IoT services. For example, a gas meter, which transmits a relatively small amount of data (100KB), can be used by signing up for Band IoT 35, while a service that requires real-time communication like lighting control service (100MB) can be used by signing up for Band IoT 200.

The company plans to launch a total of 20 LoRa-based IoT services by the end of 2016, including a manhole monitoring service (in September) and a real-time shared parking service (in October).

SKT also began providing LoRa modules free of charge on 1 July. Aimed at facilitating the development and launch of LoRa services, the company will provide a total of 100,000 units of LoRa modules at no cost.