South Korea’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, SK Telecom (SKT), has announced a range of initiatives that it hopes will ‘bring fundamental changes to the Korean telecommunication landscape’.
One key focus for the operator is to improve the performance and capacity of its 3G network, and to that end from October 2010 it will begin utilising additional bandwidth that it was allocated by the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) in May 2009. In addition, it also plans to introduce HSPA+ technology for the first time in South Korea this month in the capital, Seoul. The technology upgrade comes hot on the heels of SKT launching HSUPA in 59 cities in May 2010. As a third element in upgrading its third-generation infrastructure it has also revealed plans to double the capacity of existing base stations by applying a six-sector solution later this year, which it claims will enhance efficiency in using frequency so as to guarantee stable data traffic by comparison to the three-sector solution it currently employs.
Looking further forward SKT has also detailed its plans for the introduction of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. The cellco aims to launch LTE services commercially in Seoul in 2011, and to expand coverage to the Seoul Metropolitan Area and six metropolitan cities the following year, with a view to achieving nationwide coverage by 2013. SKT said it has already conducted LTE field tests and secured enough technological capabilities for the commercialisation of LTE.
In terms of new services, SKT has revealed that it aims to be the first South Korean operator to launch mobile VoIP (m-VoIP). SKT president and CEO Jung Man-Won said that the decision to introduce the service followed an extensive review of the technological environment and customers’ data usage patterns; previously m-VoIP has not been offered in the country due to concerns that it might act as a disincentive to carriers to make investments and hinder industrial development. SKT will also look to provide free fixed line products through subsidiary SK Broadband to its mobile voice customers based on the number of mobile lines taken by each subscriber.