South Korea’s SK Telecom (SKT) has announced the commercialisation of both five-band carrier aggregation (5C) and 4×4 MIMO. In a press release confirming the development, SKT noted that its 5C LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) Pro service initially covers 53 cities in Korea, including Seoul, Busan and Daegu, and supports downlink speeds of up to 700Mbps. It said the bandwidth used for the service comprises 10MHz in the 800MHz band, 20MHz in the 1800MHz band, 10MHz in the 2100MHz band, plus 10MHz and 20MHz blocks in the 2600MHz band. Alongside this, the cellco also revealed that it has launched a 900Mbps-capable LTE-A Pro service by combining tri-band and quad-band carrier aggregation (CA) and 4×4 MIMO. Coverage for this connectivity is more limited, however, with just six cities benefitting from it, those being Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan. According to SKT, subscribers with a Samsung Galaxy S8 handset will be able to take advantage of either of the higher-speed services via an over-the-air firmware upgrade, while additional compatible handsets are expected to launch soon.
Looking ahead, meanwhile, SKT has set out its stall to ‘aggressively expand’ the coverage of its LTE-A Pro services. To that end, it expects that the 5C LTE-A Pro service and 900Mbps LTE-A Pro service, when combined, will cover more than 50% of the population by the end of this year. Further, it has said that by combining 5C or 4C with other key LTE-A Pro technologies like 4×4 MIMO it will launch a service capable of delivering downlink speeds of 1Gbps in the first half of 2018.