SK Telecom (SKT), South Korea’s largest cellco by subscribers, has outlined plans to construct additional 1800MHz base stations with a view to securing nationwide LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) coverage. With the operator announcing in a press release that it aims to build the new infrastructure by the end of this year, it has claimed that such network developments will enable customers to access downlink speeds of up to 150Mbps nationwide. Having already rolled out an LTE network using 10MHz in the 800MHz band the operator said that ‘the nationwide rollout of this 20MHz LTE will provide the company with an important edge in deploying nationwide 20MHz (1800MHz) + 10MHz (800MHz) LTE-Advanced network that offers [speeds of] up to 225Mbps’.
In addition, SKT also confirmed that it has gained regulatory approval to use 10MHz in the 2100MHz band for LTE-based services. SKT bagged spectrum in the 2100MHz band in a 2010 auction, and by launching commercial services using such frequencies the cellco has said it will move one step closer to realising LTE-A tri-band carrier aggregation technology that could support download speeds of up to 300Mbps.Construction of 2100MHz LTE base stations will reportedly get underway in the second quarter of 2014, with SKT saying it aims to make the network available for commercialisation ‘as soon as the supporting handsets come to market’. While chipsets that support speeds of up to 300Mbps are still being developed, the operator has said it will apply multi-carrier technology to the 2100MHz base stations with a view to relieving the burden on its existing LTE infrastructure.