SK Telecom's rollout of LTE Advanced carrier aggregation signals things to come, as operators such as AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) prepare to follow suit in the coming months.
It will be intriguing to see how the U.S. operators market the improved functionalities that LTE-A brings. Will AT&T and Verizon tell their customers that they're going to be getting LTE-A service rather than plain vanilla LTE? That's exactly what SK Telecom is doing.
Some observers have questioned the wisdom of that move. From an operator standpoint, it's perfectly logical to inform customers that your network is speedier than ever and faster than your competitors' networks. Yet if customers are told they're gaining access to an "LTE Advanced Network," will they be disappointed if they aren't rewarded with a whiz-bang experience that dramatically differs from what they got used to on the LTE network?
After all, carrier aggregation is merely being enabled over the, ahem, "old" LTE network, thanks to evolutionary improvements inherent in 3GPP Release 10 technology. And there's a lot more to LTE-A than just carrier aggregation.
I asked SK Telecom about these issues for this week's special feature on their LTE-A rollout. The company responded that carrier aggregation is one of the main components of LTE Advanced 3GPP Release 10. SK Telecom also reminded me that 3GPP itself stated in April and that all work on Release 10 onward constitutes work on LTE-A. Given that, why wouldn't a carrier let customers benefiting from carrier aggregation know they are getting LTE-A service?
I'm looking forward to seeing if U.S. operators follow that line of reasoning.
In the meantime, check out FierceBroadbandWireless' feature on SK Telecom's groundbreaking LTE-A deployment.--Tammy