Korean operators jostle for position in the 5G era

It’s been a busy week as SK Telecom has claimed to have commercialized five-band Carrier Aggregation (CA) and 4X4 MIMO, while Vodafone and LG UPlus have announced a collaboration.

Starting with SK Telecom has made another incremental step towards LTE-A Pro, the last stage of LTE evolution. The company’s five-band CA LTE-A Pro service supports up to 700Mbps data rates, covering 53 cities in Korea. The team has also launched a 900 Mbps LTE-A Pro service by combining three-band/ four-band CA and 4X4 MIMO, covering the cities of Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan.

“SK Telecom’s LTE-A Pro services represent an early application of 5G technologies that support Gbps-level data speeds and massive network capacity,” said Choi, Seung-won, Head of Infrastructure Strategy Office at SK Telecom.

“4.5G can be considered as the very last stage of LTE and will facilitate the spread of immersive multimedia services, including virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D hologram content. SK Telecom will continue to offer differentiated mobile communications quality through LTE-A Pro service, while utilizing the network to gain a valuable edge in the 5G era.”

It’s early days for the service for the moment, though the team plans to have more than 50% of the Korean population covered by the end of the year.


Just an FYI

SK Telecom’s bandwidth resources as of February 2017: 10MHz bandwidth in the 800MHz band, 20MHz bandwidth in the 1.8GHz band, 10MHz bandwidth in the 2.1GHz band, 10MHz + 20 MHz bandwidths in the 2.6Ghz band.


On the partnership side of things, Vodafone and LG UPlus will be joining forces. While there hasn’t been any notable information provided about the partnership, aside from the generic PR-laden, self-congratulatory back-slapping.

“Our new partnership will enable LG Uplus to benefit from Vodafone expertise and experience, in addition to access to our global enterprise products and services,” said Vodafone Partner Markets CEO Diego Massidda. “I am delighted that LG Uplus has joined our Partner Market network and I look forward to building on our relationship in the coming years.”

“Vodafone is one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies and close cooperation will enable us to streamline and improve our existing business performance and pioneer new areas,” said Youngsoo Kwon, CEO for LG Uplus. “Vodafone is the ideal partner to help our drive to become world-class.”

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