SK trio set aggressive LTE sub targets

Basharat Ashai/Maravedis
01 Feb 2012

South Korea has become the world’s first country in which LTE services are available through all of its mobile operators - SK Telecom, Korea Telecom and LG U+.

In July 2011, both SK Telecom and LG U+ launched LTE starting in Seoul, and KT launched its commercial LTE service on January 3rd, 2012.

KT has developed a new cloud communication technology called ”LTE Warp,” which it claims improves the speed and reliability of LTE service. This technology brings together 144 cell sites under one virtual station and has been designed tο assign data capacities based οn thе Internet traffic around specific areas.

The three operators had previously announced plans to launch LTE in 2013. However, the explosive consumer adoption of smartphones (according to South Korean regulator KCC, the country passed 20 million smartphone subscribers in October 2011) and other high-bandwidth-consuming devices coupled with the dramatic increase in data usage over the last few years have forced operators to accelerate their LTE deployment plans.

SK Telecom has revealed that its data traffic recorded in June 2011 was 19 times that of August 2010 and predicts that the increase in data traffic will continue with the spread of smart devices. To address the resulting problem of network congestion, SK Telecom plans to provide what it calls a "data freeway," which can be summarized as dedicating a part of its 3G spectrum to handle only data, with the rest of the capacity used for voice.

According to SK Telecom, this differentiation (dedicating a part of its 3G spectrum to handle only data, with the rest of the capacity used for voice) will allow the company to handle a volume of data six times larger than the current level. SK Telecom has shifted one of its four carriers to data-only for better data management. It will use two more carriers for data processing by using WCDMA frequencies allocated by the Korean government in April 2010.

SK Telecom also believes that LTE technology is essential to support this traffic growth. It predicts that around 65% of its total data traffic will be handled by its LTE network by the end of 2014.

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