First step for South Korea’s nationwide 4G LTE network

17 July 2011 |


SK Telecom (SKT) and South Korea’s smallest mobile operator, LG U+, have become the first operators in South Korea to launch 4G LTE networks.

It has been reported that LG U+ plans to have LTE nationwide coverage by 2012, while SK Telecom has plans to finish rolling out its network by 2013.

The new networks, Korea’s first commercial LTE services, are a sign of the huge growth taking place in the Korean telecoms market. According to SKT, the amount of data traffic it is handling each month has increased by an enormous 19 times since August 2010, largely due to the spread of smart devices.

Joondong Bae, president and head of network business at SK Telecom, spoke of the company’s desire “to build a seamless and flawless 4G LTE network that can complement our existing 3G WCDMA network”.

SK Telecom’s first commercial LTE network in Seoul deploys over 1,700 radio units and 609 digital units, as well as using the company’s 200,000 existing 800MHz repeaters to offer 4G LTE service in all areas of Seoul, including underground and indoors. It is also using co-ordinated multi-point (CoMP) technology to prevent decline of data speed in coverage boundary areas.

Ovum senior analyst Nicole McCormick warns the novelty of the new networks will not last long: “SKT and LG U+’s first mover LTE advantage will be short-lived, as SKT plans to launch its LTE service in November with voice and data services for LTE customers.”