SK Telecom announces specifics for the first South Korean LTE network

SK Telecom (Seoul, South Korea) has announced technical specifications for its upcoming 4G LTE network, the first in South Korea. The company will begin providing commercial LTE services in Seoul by July this year and plans to expand the service to the Seoul metropolitan area and six other metropolitan cities by 2012. The service will become nationwide by 2013.


SK Telecom (Seoul, South Korea) has announced technical specifications for its upcoming 4G LTE network, the first in South Korea. The company will begin providing commercial LTE services in Seoul by July this year and plans to expand the service to the Seoul metropolitan area and six other metropolitan cities by 2012. The service will become nationwide by 2013.

Samsung Electronics, LG-Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks will be “key equipment suppliers” for the network. Samsung Electronics and LG-Ericsson will supply switching equipment, while all three companies will provide base station equipment. The company began benchmark quality tests of equipment in September 2010 and chose its partners based on price and compatibility with other suppliers.

SK Telecom plans to apply the vendor-interoperable technology in order to simultaneously use different vendors’ switching equipment and base station equipment to service one area. This will allow SK Telecom to select certain equipment according to different network coverage levels and regional traits, thus hopefully creating a higher quality network.

To achieve this, SK Telecom will adopt its own Smart Cloud Access Network (SCAN) method. A base station largely consists of Digital Unit (DU) and Radio Unit (RU). With SK Telecom’s SCAN method, LTE network DUs will be stored together in one area, while Remote Radio Units (RRU) – along with the antenna – will be set up in various locations. SCAN is reportedly highly effective cloud-based network deployment method especially optimized for wireless communication as multiple RRUs can be installed according to varying network capacity needs of each area.

Upon receiving approval from the Korea Communications Commission to utilize the 800 MHz bandwidth for LTE service, SK Telecom plans to provide LTE service underground and inside of buildings from the beginning of deployment.

SK Telecom will start offering data modems in July. Additional plans to launch diverse LTE devices including smartphones and tablet PCs by end of this year are underway.

LTE smartphones will use 3G network for voice service and LTE network for data service through DBDM (Dual Band Dual Mode) format. Until the company secures nationwide coverage for LTE, all the LTE devices will be launched in DBDM formats. In the areas where LTE coverage is not secured, the company will offer data service through current WCDMA networks.

SK Telecom plans to handle data traffic in small areas by increasing the number of Wi-Fi zones to 62,000 this year and by deploying additional 45,000 Wi-Fi zones by the end of 2011, as well as expanding the 1,000 femtocells deployed last year to 10,000 femtocells. Also, SK telecom plans to offer femtocells that can handle voice and data traffic at the same time in small areas. Finally, the 6-sector solutions, which can double the capacity of current base stations, will be expanded to 500 base stations this year from 20 base stations beta-tested at the end of last year.