SK Telecom uses Carrier Aggregation to push LTE speeds past 150Mbps

South Korean carrier SK Telecom has been granted access to 35MHz of bandwidth in the 1800MHz frequency range, allowing the LTE-Advanced early adopter to enhance its services with faster downlink speeds.

With its 35MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, SKT will split the allocation with 20MHz on the downlink and 15MHz on the uplink. This will allow the company to upgrade its LTE-A download speeds to 150Mbps for all users of over 20 existing LTE devices including Vega Racer 2, Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5, without charging users any more.

The enhanced service using the wider spectrum channels will launch in the Seoul Metropolitan Area before the end of 2013 and should be extended nationwide by July 2014.

But SKT is not planning to stop there. Using Carrier Aggregation technologies the company intends to combine its bandwidth allocation in the 1800MHz band where it has 20MHz bandwidth and the 800MHz band where it has 10MHz to offer downlink speeds of up to 225Mbps by next year.

To match its ever-increasing bandwidth offerings, SKT has also introduced new tariff packages, this month launching a new data plan named ‘T Life Pack’ that allows customers up to 140 hours of video per month. At a monthly price of KRW9,000 (€6), it provides 2GB of data every day, which results in a monthly total of around 62GB, the company said.

Additionally the company said it is preparing to launch a data plan that offers special rates that differ by time.

SKT’s LTE-Advanced service was available in 84 cities nationwide as of July 30 and the company plans to build a total of 32,000 LTE-Advanced base stations by the end of this year to cover more areas in the 84 cities.

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) said Thursday that it had recently deployed a software upgrade to basestations in the SKT, LG U+ and Korea Telecom LTE-A networks to update carrier aggregation technology allowing throughput of up to 150Mbps.

Carrier aggregation is one of the key functionalities of LTE-A and will ultimately enable aggregated bandwidths of up to 100MHz. As one of the world’s most advanced telecoms markets the South Korean operators are going beyond the current capabilities of vendor upgrades to equipment with their own modifications, as demonstrated by SKT.

LTE Asia takes place September 17th – 19th 2013 at the
Suntec Centre, Singapore

In related news, IPX platform operator BICS said Canadian carrier Rogers had come on board to enable LTE roaming over IPX with SKT in South Korea and Swisscom in Switzerland.

IPX enables mobile operators to exchange any bilateral IP traffic (voice, video, messaging and all data services) with any IPX destination, through one single interconnection and with an end-to-end management of quality.

In June, Swisscom claimed to have performed the world’s first intercontinental LTE roaming connection between Europe and Asia, having opened up roaming services with other operators in South Korea. SKT is also in talks with mobile carriers in Japan, China and the US to launch LTE roaming service in those countries

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