This year, SK Telecom, Korea's biggest mobile carrier, marches for a new challenge, servicing the Long Term Evolution (LTE) for the first time in Korea.
"By offering its LTE service, which is five to seven times faster than its existing 3G networks, SK Telecom will be the number one carrier in both wire and wireless networks. At the same time, we try our best to be a global ITC leader," Ha Sung-min, CEO of SK Telecom said.
In March, SK Telecom announced the official appointment of President Ha Sung-min as CEO. He joined SK Telecom in 1996 and developed his career in the field of finance and strategy. As CEO, he serves as the overall representative and management leader of the company.
As the Head of the Strategic Planning Office, Mr. Ha carried out many milestone projects, which significantly contributed to the growth of SK Telecom. When he was the president of the Mobile Network Operation Business Unit (MNO Company-in-Company) from 2008 to 2010, he proved his great leadership by making the company as one of the most innovative mobile carriers in the world.
Now, as the CEO, he will lead the company to find new growth engines through its platform strategy. "I will contribute to strengthening responsible management and completeness of each business unit, thereby accelerating the company's growth momentum," Mr. Ha explained.
On April, 19, 2011, SK Telecom held a demonstration of its LTE technology which plans to launch commercially in July. At the 4G LTE network demonstration, SK Telecom compared speeds of 4G LTE and the current network, 3G WCDMA and showcased LTE-based 3D video streaming and high-definition video content download and streaming.
An official said, "The technology would support the great rise in demand for high-definition content and multi-player network games in Korea as SK Telecom launches commercial LTE service in July." LTE, the new network will be five to seven times faster than its current 3G networks, enabling to download an 800MB movie in 1 minute 25 seconds, while the 3G WCDMA network takes seven minutes and 24 seconds.
The company plans to expand its LTE coverage to 23 cities including the Seoul Metropolitan Area and provide nationwide coverage in 82 cities by 2013. Moreover, SK Telecom unveiled plans to upgrade the LTE networks to LTE-A networks in 2013 to further enhance data communications speed and capacity. The time when LTE is fully commercialized, LTE will be able to handle three times more data traffic on 10MHz of spectrum, when compared to the current 3G WCDMA networks.
SK Telecom has made great contributions to the growth of the handset and telecommunications equipment industries in Korea by commercializing 2G CDMA and 3G WCDMA (mobile phone-based HSDPA) for the first time in the world.
And the company, once again, plans to lead the way by being the first in Korea to demonstrate 4G LTE, the most effective technology to handle soaring data traffic, by that, helping the Korean ICT industry in terms of large-volume content, next generation applications and so on. They will also open new markets for LTE handsets and equipment
Faced with the global surge in data traffic, as of April 2011, 16 mobile carriers in 13 different countries have already commercialized LTE. Verizon Wireless and AT&T of the U.S., Vodafone and TeliaSonera of Europe and Japan's NTT DoCoMo have launched the commercial LTE service in major cities. Moreover, 56 operators including China Mobile are currently conducting commercial tests of LTE networks. LTE is expected to become rapidly deployed from 2012, when the LTE-based smartphones and tablet PCs are released in full swing.
Differentiated technology and service
On the technical side, SK Telecom will adopt its own cloud-based network technology called Smart Cloud Access Network (SCAN). It will allow it to flexibly handle mobile data traffic that varies by time and region.
They will also apply the Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) technology to prevent base station interference and abrupt call disconnections in coverage boundary areas by enhancing signal strength, the lack of which leads to significant drop in data transmission speed.
In order to enhance underground and indoor coverage of its LTE networks, they will use LTE femtocells. Lastly, SK Telecom will provide flawless coverage from the early stage of LTE roll-out by utilizing widespread 2G repeaters as it plans to provide LTE service in the 800MHz frequency band, which it used for 2G (CDMA) service.
Since the company has been operating many repeaters, which are installed throughout the city, 4G LTE service users will be able to enjoy seamless service from the initial stage just like the users of 2G services by utilization of 2G (800MHz) repeaters.
Ushering in the era of high-definition content
"We will also be able to offer seamless, high-quality video call service via LTE networks," an official said.
SK Telecom's LTE roll-out is expected to boost high resolution, large volume content services as well as rich communication services. Content consumption, which is currently focused on music, is expected to expand to video. With LTE, the company can provide smooth download of high-definition VOD and seamless streaming service, thus realizing the N-screen era. Moreover, video consumption is expected to switch from 400-500MB standard-definition (SD) video to 700-900MB high-definition video content.
The current 64Kbps video call will be improved to over 500Kbps. This means, image quality will be improved by eight times while voice quality is two times better than before. The service will be available as early as the second half of 2011.
Moreover, mobile games will become as widespread and abundant as web games. Furthermore, LTE will add sophistication and accuracy to location-based services (LBS). SK Telecom plans to launch an upgraded version of its T-Map service, through which customers are given much more detailed and precise maps and even photos of nearby trade areas.