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SK Telecom launches commercial LTE Advanced service

SK Telecom has launched a platform that it says will provide information on what specific situation a customer is in

South Korean operator SK Telecom has launched what it says is the world’s first commercially available LTE-Advanced service. The operator said it is offering LTE-Advanced at LTE prices, having introduced carrier aggregation into its network.

SK said that the service offers network speeds of up to 150 Mbps, which is twice as fast as LTE and ten times faster than 3G speeds. LTE-Advanced users can download an 800MB movie in just 43 seconds, according to the firm.

Carrier Aggregation and Coordinated Multi Point technologies are the first elements of the LTE-Advanced suite that SK Telecom has deployed. The firm said that it plans to introduce Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination in 2014.

“CA will be further advanced to realize up to 300Mbps speed by aggregating two 20MHz component carriers by 2015, and become capable of combining three component carriers by 2016,” SK said in a statement. The current CA standards allow for up to five 20 MHz carriers to be aggregated.

To date, 13 operators across eight nations, including Verizon, AT&T, NTT Docomo and Telenor, have announced plans to launch LTE-Advanced, according to research from Wireless Intelligence,the market research arm of the GSMA. Among them Sprint, Telstra, 3 Italia and Yota have said that they will launch this year.

SK Telecom customers can purchase Samsung’s LTE-Advanced compatible Galaxy S4 at the operator’s official online store or at one of 2,850 SK Telecom retail stores.

The company has secured an initial supply of 20,000 units of the device, and said it  will “vigorously expand its LTE-A phone lineup to boost the popularization of LTE-A service”.

SKT’s use of the abbreviated phrase “LTE-A” is somewhat at odds with 3GPP policy. The standardisation body issued a press statement in April referencing “a number of differing terms related to LTE” that were “appearing in the marketplace.” 3GPP went on: “3GPP reaffirms that the naming for the technology family and its evolution continues to be covered by the term LTE-Advanced, which remains the correct description for specifications currently being defined – from Release 10 onwards, including 3GPP Release 12.”

The enhanced service is operational in Seoul and central areas of Gyeongg-do and Chungcheong-do. The operator plans to expand coverage to 84 cities nationwide.


4 comments

  1. fvunen 26/06/2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Considering that LTE-A consists of a multitude of features all aimed at increasing performance, what exactly is introduced by SKT that qualifies as LTE-A? Or is it another clever marketing trick that simply hypes a class 4 UE as delivering LTE-A?

  2. fvunen 26/06/2013 @ 3:50 pm

    Any idea what bands and how much of these bands are used for CA?
    I’m a bit puzzled by the last paragraph of the article; how is SKT’s use of LTE-A at odds with 3GPP? CA is clearly a real LTE-A feature, even in 3GPP speak?

  3. Mike Hibberd 26/06/2013 @ 4:05 pm

    Not sure on the bands at the moment. Re the final para: It’s the use of “LTE-A” as a name for the technology. In April 3GPP said that it wanted the term “LTE-Advanced” to be used at all times.

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