SK Telecom and LG U+ today launched LTE services, and competition for market leadership has already begun.
SK Telecom, which commenced data services on the 800-MHz band in Seoul, said it plans to roll out in 23 cities by early next year and achieve national coverage by 2013.
The operator has deployed 1,772 radio units and 609 digital units in the city, and will use its existing 200,000 800-MHz repeaters to widen coverage.
LG U+ also launched data services in Seoul through its network on the 2.1-GHz band.
The operator, the smallest of Korea's three main operators, has high hopes of becoming the market leader by LTE subscribers. The company aims to secure 10 million LTE customers in the next three years, Korea Times reported.
But SK Telecom - which is targeting 300,000 LTE subscribers this year and 6 million by 2013, and doesn't expect to hit 10 million until 2015 – believes its experience operating networks will help it win out in LTE.
SK Telecom also revealed plans to introduce an LTE smartphone in September and tablet PC in October. KT this week announced it would wait until November to launch LTE, so it can go live with a full voice and data service.
KT has implied that the delay before its rivals introduce compatible smartphones will reduce their head-start in the race for LTE customers.