SK Telecom sets commercial IoT precedent with LoRaWAN launch

Koran operator SK Telecom has become a trailblazer in the commercialisation of IoT with the launch of a LoRa-based network along with a range of IoT-specific tariffs.

The company says its LoRaWAN network covers 99% of the population of South Korea and has been completed six months ahead of schedule. SK Telecom had already completed the nationwide rollout of an LTE-M network earlier this year, and while NB-IoT is not specifically referred to in the announcement, this implied the network is designed to support the licensed spectrum standard too.

“SK Telecom is proud to announce the nationwide deployment of LoRaWAN as it marks the first important step towards realizing connectivity between infinite number of things, going beyond the traditional role of telecommunications centered on connectivity between people,” said Lee Hyung-hee, President of Mobile Networks at SK Telecom. “Going forward, SK Telecom will develop and offer a wide variety of IoT services designed to offer new value for customers, while working closely with partners including SMEs and startups to vitalize the IoT ecosystem.”

The tariff table below provides an interesting insight into how IoT can be commercialised by operators. There are six different IoT bands on offer, priced according to the amount of (presumably monthly) data required by the IoT device.

SK Telecom says the cheapest band would be suitable for something like a gas meter, while realtime systems like lighting control might justify the most expensive tier. A US dollar equates to just over 1000 KRW so, while each device equates to a negligible amount of money per month, as IoT ramps this could start generating significant revenue. Apparently the LoRa tariffs cost around a tenth of the LTE-M ones.

The company plans to support this launch with the development of services such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which allows utilities to both monitor and control metering devices. There will also services covering things like vehicle tracking, facilities management, smart cities, etc, with the promise of 20 LoRa-based IoT services by the end of 2016. On top of that there will also be a partner programme, though which it will open up its IoT platform for developers.


Price Plan Data Allowance*

(Frequency of communication)

Monthly Flat Rate

(VAT Excluded)

Examples of Services Note
Band IoT 35 100KB KRW 350 Metering and monitoring services (e.g. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), environmental monitoring, water leakage monitoring, etc.) – Discount benefits for long-term contracts: Ranging from a 5% discount for two-year contracts to a 20% discount for 5 year-contracts

– Multi-line discount: Ranging from a 2% discount for those using 500 lines to a 10% discount to those who use 10,000 lines

Band IoT 50 500KB KRW 500
Band IoT 70 3MB KRW 700 Tracking services (e.g. locating tracking

For people/things, asset management, etc.)

Band IoT 100 10MB KRW 1,000
Band IoT 150 50MB KRW 1,500 Control service

(e.g. safety management, lighting control, shared parking, etc.)

Band IoT 200 100MB KRW 2,000

*Data usage exceeding the data allotment provided will be charged at KRW 0.005 per 0.5KB.

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