South Korea’s SK Telecom (SKT) has launched what it claims is the world’s first commercial tri-band LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service, offering downlink speeds of up to 300Mbps by aggregating three component carriers in three different frequency bands. As noted in a press release issued by the cellco to reveal the development, it is using 20MHz in the 1800MHz band, 10MHz in the 800MHz band and 10MHz in the 2100MHz band in order to offer the higher speeds.
Prior to this latest technology development SKT noted that it had been offering LTE-A services by aggregating two carriers; having introduced downstream rates of up to 150Mbps by aggregating the 10MHz blocks in the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands in June 2013, it subsequently launched a Wideband LTE-A service (offering speeds of up to 225Mbps) by boosting the amount of spectrum in the latter band to 20MHz in June 2014.
Now, SKT has set out its stall to offer ‘unmatched’ tri-band LTE-A coverage. Having confirmed that service will be available in those areas where coverage of all three component carriers intersect, it noted that it already offers Wideband LTE-A in main areas of all 84 cities nationwide, a situation which means it will be able to offer tri-band services by simply adding 2100MHz base stations in any given area. As such, it plans to build more than 26,000 such towers during the first quarter of 2015 in order that those in Seoul/Seoul Metropolitan Area, the central areas of all cities, and all subway lines, are within the tri-band LTE-A network footprint.
Meanwhile, SKT confirmed that the Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE, the first tri-band LTE-A capable device, will initially be sold on a limited basis to those consumers ‘who wish to use the service ahead of others and provide feedback on issues including its performance (e.g. speed, transmission stability, etc.) and convenience features’. Such plans, it has suggested, will enable it to further improve its tri-band service to better meet customer needs.
Commenting on the development, Lee Jong-bong, SKT’s executive vice-president and head of Network Division said: ‘With the launch of the world’s first tri-band LTE-A service, we will not only provide our customers with unprecedented network speeds, but also offer differentiated and diverse mobile value-added services that meet customers’ needs and interests.’