Vanilla LTE just won't cut it

Staff writer
21 Jul 2015

Most Innovative Telecom Project

SK Telecom, commercial tri-band LTE-Advanced service

Last year's winner: Globe Telecom, Globe-Google’s Free Zone
Business segments: B2C (mobile voice/data, content platform services, converged internet services), B2B (enterprise, telematics, payments)
Key stats (end of 2014):

Consolidated operating revenues of 17.1 trillion won ($15.4 billion), up 3.4%; operating income of 1.8 billion won, down 9.2%; Consolidated net income of 1.8 trillion won, up 11.8%; 28.6 million subscribers

SK Telecom has never been one to sit around and wait for the next advance in cellular technology to come along, so it perhaps should be no surprise that not only was SKT the first cellco to launch LTE-A using carrier aggregation (CA), but the first to do it across three spectrum bands.

In fact, SK Telecom had already been offering dual-band LTE-A CA commercially since the middle of 2013, tapping the 800-MHz and 1800-MHz bands for 10 MHz each to offer 150-Mbps connections. A year later, SK Telecom boosted its LTE-A service to 225-Mbps by aggregating an extra 10 MHz from the 1800-MHz band - which was another world first in itself.

SK Telecom had already telegraphed its intentions to go tri-band at last year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it demonstrated the ability to combine three 20-MHz bands to deliver connections speeds up to 450 Mbps.

By the end of last year, its tri-band LTE-A CA technology was a commercial reality, though not quite at the levels SKT showcased in Barcelona. The commercial service launched at the end of 2014 only takes 20 MHz from one band (1800 MHz) and 10 MHz from two others (800 MHz and 2100 MHz). Still, that adds up to connection speeds of 300 Mbps, which is a fourfold increase from vanilla LTE.

SK Telecom is already working on 4-band and 5-band LTE-A CA. And all of this is feeding into its 5G ambitions. Korea is determined to have 5G up and running live on at least on a limited trial basis by the Winter Olympics in 2018. Whoever pulls that off is likely to make the shortlist for this category three years from now.

Judges’ comment

“This project marked the first commercial launch in the world of LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation technology incorporating three bands rather than two.”


Telecom Asia Awards 2015 Winners:

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