SEOUL, KOREA – SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) today held a press conference presided over by Joon-Dong Bae, President of Network Operations Business of SK Telecom, to declare its commitment to opening an era of “LTE 2.0,” marked by sophistication and popularization of LTE services and network. The company said the new era will be defined by innovative LTE services: 4High-quality communication services, 4 lifestyle-enhancing LTE services and 4industrial productivity-improving solutions.
SK Telecom became the world’s second largest LTE service provider in just a year since launching commercial LTE service for the 22nd time in the world in July 2011.
With the aim to keep providing the world’s top network quality, the company said it will lead LTE network evolution by covering 99% of the population with its LTE network by June; become the world’s first to commercialize Multi Carrier (MC) on July 1, and realize up to 150Mbps data rate through LTE-A commercialization in the second half of 2013.
The company’s declaration of the LTE 2.0 era is an expression of its willingness and confidence to create an environment where all customers can enjoy and benefit from LTE services of greater variety and premium quality, since it has completed, over the previous year, the phase of establishment of infrastructure needed for popularization of LTE services by deploying LTE network.
At the same time, it displays SK Telecom’s ambition to solidify Korea’s status as an LTE powerhouse, strongly supported by the company’s world’s top-class LTE services and technologies.
Innovating LTE-optimized services for individual and corporate customers
SK Telecom will continue to bring innovative LTE services for customers to experience a more pleasant and convenient mobile life at both work and daily life.
First, the company plans to lead communication service innovation in an all-IP environment where voice and data are integrated. It will be introducing Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Rich Communication Suite (RCS) to provide customers with high quality call and messaging services.
SK Telecom unveiled plans to commercialize its VoLTE service named ‘HD Voice’ in the third quarter of this year. HD Voice is a premium communication service that offers voice, video and data in an integrated manner.
Compared to the existing 3G voice call, it offers up to 2.2 times better sound quality and twice faster call connection speed (requires less than 0.3 ~ 2.5 seconds of call connecting time).
HD Voice enables users to switch from a voice call to video any time during a call, and share content like photos and video with the person on the other end of the phone. The strength of HD Voices lies in that it can be further upgraded with the addition of new value and diverse features.
SK Telecom combined its knowhow and state-of-the-art network technologies to ensure the best quality HD Voice service over its nationwide LTE network. Especially, the company secured the best stability required for voice calls by applying QCI(QoS Class Identifier) technology, which processes ‘HD Voice’ signals before any other signals.
Although HD Voice is a premium version that offers differentiated value, the company plans to apply its current pay-per-second billing system to minimize customers’ cost burden and promote service use. Details of service rates will be set once the company completes designing the optimal offer for customers.
Moreover, SK Telecom is also stepping up efforts to commercialize RCS service, chosen as the direction of evolution of mobile communications, along with VoLTE, by worldwide mobile carriers.
RCS is a service that enables integrated use of features like voice call, SMS, chatting, file-sharing through diverse networks and devices. The company has been playing a leading role in commercialization and global standardization of RCS.
It will first integrate its messaging services such as SMS into an RCS service and provide differentiated service quality leveraging reliability and stability, the core strengths of mobile carriers, and plans to develop RCS into a next-generation integrated communication platform by expanding RCS-capable devices, securing fixed-mobile interworking, and converging RCS with HD Voice and other new services. The company plans to launch its RCS service in the second half of this year after building a detailed service structure and billing systems.
Second, SK Telecom will release various lifestyle-enhancing services – in the areas of network games, mobile IPTV, etc. – for customers to enjoy a true mobile life realized by SK Telecom’s world’s best LTE network.
The company will become the first and only provider of mobile versions of major online network games (e.g. Genesis, Cart Rider Rush+, Blue Moon, etc.) over LTE network by partnering with Korean game developers.
SK Telecom will also release a mobile IPTV service called ‘Mobile B TV’ in July. The service boasts high definition resolution at 1Mbps, which is the highest image quality realized for mobile IPTV service in Korea. Mobile B TV will provide around 40 channels including terrestrial broadcast channels, general programming and sports channels, and offer convenient features like reservation and notification
Third, SK Telecom will strengthen productivity-improving enterprise solutions specialized to run on LTE networks.
Currently, the company is offering smart device-based customized enterprise solutions designed to suit the nature of each industry and company by leveraging the strength of LTE network.
SK Telecom is helping companies increase productivity and save cost by building a smart work environment with innovative solutions such as real-time process/ quality management solution (i.e. s haring of high definition image and large blueprint files), digital medical imaging solution (utilizing 3D X-ray, MRI, etc.), and live video lectures via smart learning services.
Leading generation evolution with world’s most innovative LTE technologies
SK Telecom announced that it will cover 99 percent of the Korean population by deploying LTE networks even in small towns and townships by the end of this month. It has already completed building LTE network in more than 84 major cities (plus railroads and highways), covering 95 percent of the population, in April 2012 through early execution of LTE network investment.
With completion of the nationwide LTE coverage, the company can now offer innovative LTE services to all customers and keep developing LTE-specialized services like VoLTE in an all-IP environment.
In January 2012, SK Telecom achieved the world’s first commercialization of Advanced-SCAN (Smart Cloud Access Network), an upgraded version of SCAN, which has been developed to enhance LTE speed and coverage. Advanced-SCAN uses virtualization technology to ensure four times better call quality in base station boundary areas, thereby improving the overall LTE coverage and speed.
Moreover, the company commercialized world’s first LTE Femtocell on June 1 to provide stable LTE call quality in underground, buildings and data traffic concentrated areas. With LTE Femtocell, customers can use high speed, premium quality LTE services anywhere, anytime.
SK Telecom’s LTE network will be further upgraded with the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies like MC, HIS(Hybrid Network Integrated Solution) and LTE-A.
SK Telecom revealed its plans to commercialize MC for the first time in the world on July 1, 2012. The company developed MC technology to utilize both its existing 800MHz frequency band and the 1.8GHz band it newly acquired in the second half of last year. With an additional 20MHz uplink/downlink spectrum, it will be using a total of 40MHz for its LTE services.
The biggest strength of MC lies in that it allows the use of additional frequency bands and enables effective and efficient use of frequencies. As it chooses the faster one between the two frequency bands for LTE communications, mobile data traffic is optimally distributed to each frequency band, preventing network overload.
SK Telecom began offering MC pilot service in the Gangnam Station area from May 30 and commercialization of MC will begin in July 2012, with plans to cover the whole Seoul area within 2012 and 23 other major cities by early 2013. The company also said that it will achieve world’s first commercialization of HIS that enables simultaneous use of LTE and Wi-Fi networks in the fourth quarter of this year. Hybrid Network is being recognized as a promising technology that provides data rates of up to 127Mbps (LTE 75Mbps + Wi-Fi 52Mbps), which is 70 percent faster than that of current LTE network.
SK Telecom is also leading the development of innovative LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technologies. It unveiled plans to commercialize Carrier Aggregation (CA), a core LTE-A technology that doubles data transmission speed by utilizing two different frequency bands, in the second half of 2013.
For instance, with the adoption of CA technology, customers will be able to download a 1.4GB movie in just 75 seconds as CA realizes data rates of up to 150Mbps by combining the speeds of 800MHz (75Mbps) and 1.8GHz (75Mbps) frequency bands.
Transforming mobile life with LTE
SK Telecom became the second largest LTE service provider in the world after the U.S. operator Verizon Wireless. The company expects to surpass 3.4 million LTE subscribers by the end of June in just a year since launching Korea’s first LTE service in July 1, 2011.
Based on the rapid growth rate of LTE subscribers, it expects the number of cumulative LTE subscribers to exceed 7 million by the end of 2012. The company issued an upgraded forecast for year-end LTE subscriptions, from 5 million in January to 6 million in April.
“Because we moved ahead of others to secure outstanding LTE network quality and constantly promoted the development of innovative LTE services that add value and convenience to customers’ lives, we were able to achieve such rapid growth in LTE subscribers,” said SK Telecom.
LTE network coverage expanded from Seoul (Jul. 2011) to nationwide, covering 99 percent of population (Jun. 2012), over the last one year. Frequency bandwidth used for LTE service also increased from one-way 5MHz (Jul. 2011) to 10MHz (Oct. 2011), and then to 20MHz (10MHz each at 800MHz band and 1.8GHz band, Jul 2012) with commercialization of Multi Carrier technology.
SK Telecom is offering diverse LTE plans (youth/elderly/couple) and packages (bundling services and contents at more affordable rates) to meet customer’s needs and taste and continues to increase customer benefits many areas through open collaboration.
In particular, T Freemium, an LTE package deal launched on April 2 2012 to allow subscribers to enjoy SK Telecom’s differentiated premium contents free of charge, has attracted over 900,000 users, who downloaded a combined total of 5.5 million contents.
“T Freemium is strongly boosting the use of mobile contents over LTE network. We expect T Freemium to become a representative LTE service chosen by 3.5 million customers to download contents worth some KRW 150 billion by the end of this year,” said SK Telecom.
More and more customers are enjoying high-speed multimedia/ web/ SNS/ lifestyle services (shopping, ticketing/ reservation, etc.) anywhere, anytime. Moreover, with growing use of multimedia contents via LTE network, LTE customers are using around 1.7GB of data on average per month, which is approximately 60 percent more than that of 3G customers, which stands at 1GB. In addition, the proportion of people in their 20s and 30s in total LTE subscriber base decreased from 56 percent in April 2011 to 45 percent in May 2012, meaning that LTE is becoming a service used by wider age groups.