SK Telecom jumps on LoRa roaming bandwagon

Joining several European operators in their ambitions, SK Telecom wants to set up a global Internet of Things (IoT) roaming network based on LoRa.

The strategy is part of the Korean government's national policy research projects, according to Mobile World Live. SK Telecom recently discussed partnerships for the LoRa network to connect Korea and Europe with its partners, including Telefonica and French system integrators EGM and CEA. The French companies, currently testing their LoRa networks in Europe, agreed to discuss standardization of roaming systems. SK is also expected to meet with officials from the LoRa Alliance in Berlin this week.

Earlier this month, SK Telecom announced the completion of its nationwide deployment of a low power wide area network (LPWAN) based on LoRa technology, saying it competed the effort six months earlier than its initial schedule, covering 99 percent of the population. Interesting, the company is covering its bases, securing both nationwide LTE-M and LoRaWAN as the two main pillars for its IoT network. The company completed its nationwide LTE-M rollout in March. SK uses the 900 MHz band for LPWAN.

KPN in the Netherlands in late June launched what it claimed was the world's first nationwide LoRa network, while Bouygues and Orange in France are rolling out ambitious projects as well, noted Mobile World Live.

In the U.S., independent IoT network deployments are being engineered by the likes of Ingenu and Sigfox, but so far, operators like AT&T (NYSE: T) are sticking to their standards-based guns. The 3GPP recently ratified Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology, and that's what cellular operators expect to roll out commercially for applications that require wide coverage and long battery life.

Last week, AT&T said it will launch a pilot of Cat-M1 network technologies later this year as it looks to help businesses cut costs and boost device performance for IoT deployments. The nation's second-largest carrier said Cat-M1 can operate on its existing LTE footprint and "flexibly co-exist" with mobile offerings in the same spectrum. The company added that the technologies are designed to support next-generation devices including wearables and utility meters.

Cat-M1 devices are expected to enable access to low-cost module technology, extend the battery life of enabled devices 10 years or more and enhance coverage for underground and in-building areas where connectivity can be difficult. The pilot, which will be held at AT&T Labs in San Ramon, California, will represent IoT uses including alarm monitoring, smart meters, vending inventory and propane tank monitoring.

For more:
- see this Mobile World Live article
- see this Korea Times story

Related articles:
AT&T to launch pilot of Cat-M1 technologies later this year to pursue IoT
LTE gets ready to fight against proprietary tech for the IoT
SK Telecom to build nationwide LoRa network for Internet of Things
Verizon doubles down on Internet of Things, claims first in Cat 1 LTE