South Korea’s largest cellco by subscribers, SK Telecom (SKT) has outlined plans to enhance its Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services. Having acquired a 35MHz block of spectrum in the 1800MHz band in the government’s recently closed auction, the cellco has said it will use the wider bandwidth to offer a 20MHz downlink LTE service which will support downlink speeds of up to 150Mbps. SKT has said it expects to begin offering its 4G service using wider spectrum channels in Seoul by the end of 2013, while nationwide coverage is expected to follow by July 2014. Further, SKT has said it will combine spectrum holdings in the 1800MHz (20MHz bandwidth) and 800MHz (10MHz) bands in order to enable it to offer downlink speeds of up to 225Mbps by next year for its LTE-A service.
Having launched commercial LTE-A services in June 2013, SKT also confirmed that as a result of its ‘aggressive efforts to expand … coverage to meet customers’ demand for faster Internet connectivity’, the technology has been available in central areas of 84 cities across the country since end-July 2013. In order to boost its network footprint further, the cellco has said it will roll out a total of 32,000 units of LTE-A base stations by the end of 2013 to enhance coverage in all 84 cities, as well as at 300 universities across the nation.
Commenting on the plans, SKT’s president and head of network operations business, Park In-sik, said: ‘Together with SK Telecom’s LTE-Advanced network that already covers central areas of 84 cities nationwide, our 20MHz downlink LTE service will allow more customers to experience and benefit from the ultrafast mobile data environment. Moreover, with the ultimate goal of realising the combined use all our LTE bandwidths, we are currently focusing on developing next-generation network technologies.’
In separate but related news, Light Reading reports that the number of customers to have signed up for SKT’s LTE-A service stood at 350,000 as at 7 August 2013.