Pacific-based telecoms operator IT&E – which recently sold a strategic stake to SK Telecom of South Korea – has disclosed plans to launch 5G technology in 2019, as it seeks to steal a march on its rivals. IT&E President and CEO James Oehlerking announced the move in a news conference this week, while a statement issued to local media outlets explained: ‘IT&E has already secured 1150MHz bandwidth in the 28GHz frequency band for 5G and aims to launch the first ever 5G service in the region in 2019.’ Within the next 18 months IT&E also seeks to extend its network coverage and double broadband capacity, as well as expanding roaming services for locals, tourists and military personnel.
The 5G strategy stokes the existing rivalry between IT&E and its local rival, DOCOMO Pacific. In June 2018 newly appointed DOCOMO Pacific chief executive Roderick Boss made the bold claim that Japanese parent company NTT DOCOMO was considering testing 5G wireless technology on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) prior to its planned domestic launch in 2020.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month SK Telecom invested KRW35 billion (USD31.2 million) in IT&E, becoming the telco’s second-largest shareholder in the process, behind Philippines-based Citadel Holdings (part of Prospector Investments), which is owned by the Delgado family.