SK Telecom announced that it launched commercial tri-band LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service, which the carrier said was a world's first.
The South Korean operator says the service is four times faster than LTE and 21 times faster than 3G. At peak speed, tri-band LTE-A allows users to download a 1 GB movie in just 28 seconds. That compares with LTE, which requires 1 minute and 50 seconds to download the same 1 GB movie, and LTE-A, which takes 55 seconds to download a 1 GB movie, according to SK's press release.
SK's tri-band LTE involves aggregating three component carriers in three different frequency bands: 20 MHz of bandwidth in the 1.8 GHz band, 10 MHz in the 800 MHz band, and 10 MHz of bandwidth in the 2.1 GHz band.
Prior to the tri-band LTE-A launch, SK Telecom was offering LTE-A service by aggregating two carriers. The company developed the tri-band LTE-A carrier aggregation (CA) technology in January 2014 and demonstrated 450 Mbps tri-band LTE-A at the Mobile World Congress 2014 trade show in February by binding three 20 MHz bands.
By commercializing tri-band LTE-A CA, SK Telecom said moves a step closer to realizing 5G service.
The company plans to build more than 26,000 2.1 GHz base stations within the first quarter of 2015 to provide tri-band LTE-A service in Seoul and the surrounding metro area, as well as central areas of all cities nationwide and in subway lines.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE is the carrier's first tri-band LTE-A capable device, and it will be sold to a limited number of early adopters who will provide feedback on performance and other issues. The company said that SK Telecom subscribers will be able to get the new service at the same price as LTE.
In June 2013, SK Telecom rolled out the world's first LTE-A network with CA with a commercial smartphone for use with the service.
Earlier this year, SK Telecom outlined its view on 5G technology and architecture in a white paper. The company also forged a 5G partnership with Samsung Electronics, and it's working on 5G with other vendors like Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) as well.
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