South Korean operator SK Telecom claims to have broken through the 10-million mark for its LTE subscriber numbers just one year and nine months after first launching the service.
The country’s biggest operator said it reached the milestone on 19 April and would aim to have signed up a total of 15 million customers by the end of this year.
It also expects to introduce a commercial service based on LTE-Advanced – a standard that promises even faster connection speeds than LTE – in September.
The take-up means that 37% of the operator’s customers are now using the LTE service, a higher proportion than achieved by any other operator worldwide.
SK Telecom (Seoul, South Korea) attributes the strong interest in its LTE services to its “unmatched network quality, differentiated value-added services, a rich line-up of devices, as well as attractive price plans and programs”.
The operator claimed to have covered 99% of the population with its LTE network by July 2012 and now boasts a line-up of 33 LTE devices, including 25 smartphones, five tablet computers, two USB modems and an LTE-capable camera.
SK Telecom has also been especially innovative in the area of pricing – one of its tariffs allows customers to give data they do not use as part of their allowance to other LTE users (up to a 2GB limit).
SK Telecom’s apparent success makes the efforts of LTE operators in Europe look somewhat lackluster.
In the UK, for instance, EE (Hatfield, UK) chief executive Olaf Swantee has said that converting 10% of the pay monthly base to LTE after 24 months is considered a measure of success.
The joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France) currently operates the UK’s only 4G network and is aiming to sign up 1 million LTE customers by the end of the year, which would represent about 8% of its current pay monthly customer base some 14 months after launch.
In the US, meanwhile, Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) has reported that more than 20% of its contract customers were using LTE devices some 24 months after it launched services.