South Korea’s SK Telecom announced this week that it achieved the world’s first commercialization of Multi Carrier LTE.
The company is utilizing both its existing 800MHz frequency band (20MHz) and the 1.8GHz band (20MHz) it acquired last year. With an additional 20MHz uplink/downlink spectrum, it is now using a total of 40MHz for its LTE services.
Multi Carrier aggregation allows the use of additional frequency bands and enables mobile data traffic to be optimally distributed to each frequency band, preventing network overload. Upon detecting LTE user concentration in the 800MHz band, the system automatically moves data traffic to 1.8GHz to improve data rate.
SK Telecom had 2.4 million LTE subscribers and a total base of more than 26 million mobile subscribers as of the end of April, making SK Telecom the second largest LTE service provider in the world after Verizon Wireless. About 30 percent of South Koreans are expected to move to LTE within a few months.
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) regulator auctioned LTE spectrum across three bands, 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz, last August. SK Telecom (51% market share) and KT Corp (31% market share) control just over 80% of the country’s mobile market, while LG Uplus has a 17.8 percent share.
SK Telecom began full-fledged commercialization on July 1, delivering twice the bandwidth as its competitors. A firmware update enables the Galaxy S3 LTE to be able to support the technology. Moreover, most of the smartphones to be released in the second half of 2012 will be built with the MC technology.
Starting with Seoul’s Gangnam area, SK Telecom plans to complete MC roll-out in Seoul and major areas in six metropolitan cities within the year-end. It will also cover massive underground spaces like Underground Shopping Mall at Gangnam Station and COEX. Then, service area will be expanded to 23 cities including the Seoul metropolitan area and other metropolitan cities.
Japan’s Softbank is reportedly in negotiations with China Mobile for future TD-LTE roaming, according to a MobilityTechZone. Softbank’s TD-LTE network now has 100,000 users served by 7,000 TD-LTE base stations, with the operator expecting to build out 3,000 more base stations by year’s end. Softbank is expected to introduce a Huawei-produced TD-LTE-based smartphone model this October or November.
LTE is expected to claim the lion’s share of wireless infrastructure spending by next year, says IHS iSuppli. Global carrier spending on wireless infrastructure will grow from $42.5 billion in 2011 to $45.1 billion in 2015. The share of 4G spending by 2015 will reach $36.1 billion, compared to just $9.0 billion for 3.5G. Worldwide IT spending is on pace to reach $3.6 trillion in 2012, a 3 percent increase from 2011 spending of $3.5 trillion, according to the latest outlook by Gartner.