SK Telecom – which acquired a significant strategic stake in Pacific-based telecoms operator IT&E in September 2018 – has confirmed that it will assist the smaller telco with the deployment of a 5G fixed-wireless access (FWA) network covering Guam and Saipan (on the Northern Mariana Islands) during the second half of 2019. The plans were disclosed following a meeting between SK Telecom CEO and President Park Jung-ho, Jose Ricardo Delgado, President and CEO of Citadel Holdings (IT&E’s majority shareholder) and Jim Oehlerking, CEO of IT&E.
The decision to initially deploy a fixed-wireless 5G solution came as a result of an analysis of the region’s fixed broadband infrastructure, topographic features and the needs of residential and enterprise customers. IT&E says that it has already secured 1,150MHz of bandwidth in the 28GHz frequency band and aims to launch the first ever 5G service in the region. The 5G rollout will begin from highly concentrated central areas of cities, local business customers and areas that lack fixed-line infrastructure. Then, the coverage of the network will be expanded gradually to wider areas.
SK Telecom will help IT&E design a 5G network optimised for the local environment; support efficient network deployment; and perform field trials and network optimisation.