CTO, SK Telecom: “LTE has become the global mainstream service.”

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom, regarding the company’s award for winning the ‘Most Significant Development of a Commercial LTE Network’ award.

Tell us more about your LTE Awards 2013 entry.

SK Telecom has continuously developed and commercialised diverse innovative network technologies to provide the best LTE service to customers. Since launching Korea’s first LTE network using the 800MHz frequency band in July 2011, SK Telecom completed its nationwide LTE rollout in June 2012. It is now providing seamless LTE service in underground and in-building areas as well as mountainous regions and coastal/island areas through the world’s first commercialisation of LTE femtocells in June 2012. Furthermore, after acquiring 1.8GHz frequency band, SK Telecom developed and applied the world’s first Multi Carrier (MC) to offer faster and more reliable LTE service through effective operation of the two frequency bands (800MHz and 1.8GHz) in July 2012. Moreover, based on its strong network, SK Telecom achieved the world’s first commercialisation of nationwide VoLTE in August, 2012.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

SK Telecom was able to differentiate itself from others by developing and applying breakthrough LTE technologies, securing the richest LTE smartphone line-up and providing a wide variety of mobile value-added services optimised for the LTE network. Based on such efforts, the number of SK Telecom’s LTE subscribers grew rapidly to reach about 11 million (as of the end of June 2013), taking it up to around 40 per cent of SK Telecom’s total mobile subscriber base.

How will your product evolve and improve in the future?

SK Telecom will focus on developing technologies that enhance the quality and value of its LTE network. SK Telecom recently launched the world’s first LTE-Advanced service through smartphones in Korea. With the increasing amount of LTE data traffic, we decided to adopt LTE-Advanced at an early stage to further enhance the customer experience. Also, we will advance our networks by combining cutting-edge technology to our base stations to add intelligence, enabling them to not only offer mobile connectivity, but also to provide customers with a unique mobile experience through a wide variety of customised services. We will also focus on small cells that expand network capacity in the most cost-effective manner using the given frequency resources to provide seamless service quality to customers.

What trends do you see ahead for the industry for the next 12 months?

Recently, the number of LTE connections around the world hit 100 million, and is growing at a rapid pace. LTE has become the global mainstream service. In countries that already have nationwide LTE coverage operators will start competing over service quality rather than network coverage. Also, as the amount of LTE data traffic increases, operators will also focus on the next-generation network technologies such as LTE-Advanced, Software-Defined Networks and small cells.

What are the biggest challenges that lie ahead for LTE?

It is expected that data traffic will surge with the rapid growth of LTE subscribers. To accommodate the ever-growing needs for ultra-fast and seamless data communications, operators must seek ways to expand their network capacity and efficiency. Operators also need to create business models/services designed for LTE network to set themselves apart from other LTE providers and attract more customers, while putting energy into developing next-generation network technologies such as LTE-Advanced and Software-Defined Networks to further enhance customer experience and value.

What impact has winning this award had for your business?

The LTE Awards has recognised SK Telecom’s ceaseless efforts to develop ground-breaking LTE technologies and provide customers with flawless and rich LTE service. The award helped SK Telecom further solidify its status as the leader in the LTE and LTE-Advanced market.

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