SK Telecom and Nokia to jointly research narrowband IoT

SK Telecom is to work with Nokia Networks to research and develop narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technologies as an alternative to LTE. The announcement comes as the two vendors also announced a new breakthrough in LTE carrier aggregation.

Under the recently announced memorandum of understanding the Korean telco and Finnish equipment maker will co-develop NB-IoT using a bandwidth of 200 kHz, in contrast to the 1.4 MHz bandwidth LTE needs.

NB-IoT, currently being standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body, could support low-power transmission of small data to massive numbers of low throughput devices. By using the technology in-band it could run on unused resource blocks that could be made available on a normal LTE carrier through an equipment upgrade.

The two companies will develop a range of uses cases and key technologies related to NB-IoT and aim to take the NB-IoT standard forward with the 3GPP.

“NB-IoT is one of the core technologies which is essential for the development of a variety of IoT services,” said Andrew Cope, Head of Korea at Nokia Networks.

Meanwhile, the two partners recently claimed a new industry first for LTE, by demonstrating 428 Mbps data transmission rates through the industry’s first TD-LTE advanced three carrier aggregation using 256 QAM capable devices.

This technology breakthrough will lay the foundation for the introduction of Time Division LTE in Korea, claimed the partners, since it verifies that this combination of equipment and signal configuration can boost peak throughput from 110 Mbps to 428 Mbps.

Both companies say they now plan to establish a TD-LTE test bed and conduct trials of TD-LTE services.

The test network used a Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station with software to aggregate three carriers on the TD-LTE band 41 spectrum (2496 – 2690 MHz) and load balancing across three 20 MHz carriers for optimum use of the 60 MHz of spectrum. The 256 QAM devices were linked using a Qualcomm SnapdragonTM X12 LTE modem.

According to a GSA report, 18 TDD-FDD LTE networks had already been launched by October 2015.

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