SK Telecom: R&D now and for the future

John C. Tanner
17 May 2012

Best Mobile Carrier

SK Telecom

Last year's winner:CSL
Business segments:B2C (mobile voice/data, content platform services, converged internet services), B2B (enterprise, telematics, payments)
Shareholders:Citibank ADR, SK Corp, SK Telecom, Nat'l Pension Corp, POSCO
CEO:Ha Sung Min
Key stats (end of 2011):26.5 million subscribers; consolidated revenue of KRW 15.945 trillion ($14 billion), up 2.2% year on year; net income of KRW 1.583 trillion ($1.4 billion), down 10.4%

SK Telecom

Example: racing alongside rival cellcos KT and LG+ to roll out LTE last year, SK Telecom went the extra mile by developing its own hybrid network technology to integrate LTE with Wi-Fi seamlessly for a combined downlink speed of 100 Mbps.

Han Nam-Seuk, SVP and head of SK Telecom's Information Technology R&D Center, points to that hybrid technology - showcased at Mobile World Congress earlier this year - as one of the operator's biggest achievements this past year, as well as the rollout and launch of LTE itself.

"We launched LTE services in July [2011], and introduced LTE smartphones in September. In January 2012 we had 1 million LTE subscribers, and now [as of April 17] we have 2 million," Han told Telecom Asia.

Han also points to SK Telecom achieving nationwide LTE coverage for 95% of the population as of April this year. And while SK Telecom wasn't the first cellco to achieve that benchmark (LG+ beat them to it, barely), it was well ahead of its original rollout schedule.

"It's a significant accomplishment for us because initially we'd planned to have nationwide coverage by 2013, but we had the technology in place and a lot of demand from our customers," he says.

SK Telecom has also been busy in other areas, such as spinning off its content services division, SK Planet, which not only develops services like music, video and payment services for the company, but also sells the platform (including its recently launched app store platform, T-Store) to operators in other markets such as Japan, China and Europe.

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