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SKT lights HSDPA network

18 May 2006

SK Telecom has launched its commercial HSDPA network in 25 major cities and is offering what it claims is the world’s first commercial HSDPA-enabled mobile handset, the Samsung SCH-W200. The cellco has branded the HSDPA service ‘3G+’ in a bid to familiarise users with the technology, an upgrade of 3G W-CDMA services. The service will be expanded to less populous areas and more than 90% of the population by the end of the year. The network currently offers data transmission speeds at up to 1.8Mbps, but SKT says the downlink speed is expected to reach 3.6Mbps by early next year, 7.2Mbps by the end of 2007 and 14.4Mbps by 2008. The Samsung handset includes a dual-band, dual-mode chip which supports 2G, 2.5G and 3G networks and offers a variety of multimedia functions including mobile TV via Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (S-DMB).

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database SKT received its IMT-2000 licence in December 2000, but with the company concentrating on its CDMA-based business the rollout of W-CDMA services was a protracted affair. It selected LG Electronics and Samsung as UMTS equipment suppliers in May 2003 and launched W-CDMA services in Seoul with little fanfare in December 2003. Until this year SKT had done little to promote the service, with coverage confined to the capital. This has all changed, however, with the operator, under pressure from the government, promising to ramp up the service by investing KRW500 million on its HSDPA network and extending W-CDMA coverage to a further 83 cities by the end of 2006.

South Korea, SK Telecom (SKT)

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