SK Telecom to build nationwide LoRa network for Internet of Things

Similar to what Orange is doing in France, South Korea's SK Telecom says it plans to build a nationwide low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) this year based on the LoRa (LoRaWAN) protocol.

It's part of SK's strategy for the Internet of Things (IoT), which involves the investment of more than $84 million over two years, with plans to upgrade its IoT platform ThingPlug and develop IoT-dedicated modules.

The company's plans come in step with the Korean government's aggressive move toward promoting new industries, including the IoT industry. In particular, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning decided to revise the maximum transmit power for the 900 MHz frequency band – i.e., from 10 mW to 200 mW - to cultivate the IoT industry. Such a move is expected to help operators overcome limitations caused by the low transmit power and to secure the basis for new IoT services.

SK Telecom points out that LPWAN is designed to support communication among IoT devices. As it can transmit data over tens of kilometers while consuming much less power, many companies are actively developing the LPWA technologies and launching related services. LPWAN, once built, is expected to trigger various new business models, such as metering, location tracking and monitoring and control services, because it offers connectivity at a reduced rate of power consumption.

Along with the nationwide LPWAN deployment, SK Telecom will establish an IoT Control Center to manage network equipment and IoT devices. The IoT Control Center will monitor real-time status of the nationwide IoT network and all connected devices to optimize the operation. The center will also operate an "IoT Security Diagnosis Process" that measures the security level of the developed or altered system/devices and removes security weaknesses.

As U.S. operators have done with their IoT programs, SK also plans to open the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of its IoT-dedicated modules to third-party companies. SK said it will provide IoT modules, free of charge, to startups and SMEs to test their services, thus lowering the entry barrier for them.

​SK Telecom joined the LoRa Alliance in July 2015 to discuss the standardization of the LPWA network and measures for the adoption and use of the network. Around the same time, SK Telecom entered in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) to collaborate on the development of LTE-based machine type communications technologies.

For more:
see this press release

Related articles:
Ericsson, AT&T trialing cellular LPWA solution for massive IoT
Orange extends IoT trial with LoRa in France
Verizon launches ThingSpace to jumpstart the Internet of Things
Orange to build LoRa-based IoT network from 2016

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