SK Telecom: VoLTE, RCS and LTE-A carrier aggregation all on deck

SK Telecom announced it will commercialize VoLTE and RCS service later this year and will also commercialize LTE Advanced with carrier aggregation in the second half of 2013.

The South Korean operator, which launched LTE in July 2011 and is dubbing its impending lineup of services "LTE 2.0," intends to introduce voice over LTE in this year's third quarter and Rich Communication Suite services before year's end, according to a Korea IT Times article.

In conjunction with VoLTE, SKT will offer high-definition (HD) voice service. The operator said the HD voice service will deliver up to 2.2 times better sound quality and call-connection speed that it twice as fast as its current offering.

SKT's RCS offering will initially be integrated with messaging services such as SMS but over time will be expanded to other converged services.

The operator said its introduction of LTE-A carrier aggregation in the second half of 2013 will double its network data transmission speed up to 150 Mbps. Using this approach, two or more component carriers from the same or disparate bands can be aggregated to support wider transmission bandwidths and, thus, faster transmission speeds.

Last month, SKT announced it was testing LTE multi-carrier technology, which it intends to commercialize on July 1. Multi-carrier technology enables the South Korean operator to use both its existing 800 MHz and the 1.8 GHz frequency band it acquired in the second half of last year for LTE. LTE MC assesses the level of data traffic congestion in an area and automatically selects the less congested, and thus faster, frequency band to deliver service.

SK Telecom will also release a mobile IPTV service called Mobile B TV in July, said the Korea IT Times. Mobile B will deliver some 40 channels including terrestrial broadcast channels, general programming and sports channels. In addition, the operator announced a new focus on productivity improvements for enterprises, with initiatives that include sharing solutions for high-definition images and large blueprint files, digital medical imaging solutions and live video lectures via smart learning services.

The operator expects to cover 99 percent of South Korea's population with LTE by the end of this month. SKT claims to be the world's second-largest LTE service provider, behind Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), and it expects to surpass 3.4 million LTE subscribers by the end of this month and 7 million by year's end.

Some 7 million South Koreans, or about 14 percent of the population, use LTE smartphones, and by year's end the number of LTE subscribers in South Korea is expected to jump to 15 million, or 30 percent of the population, according to an Associated Press article, which noted the proportion of LTE customers in the United States is only 5 percent of the population.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of South Korea has said the number of LTE smartphone users in that nation will surpass 33 million in 2013, AP said. SKT, KT and LG Uplus all offer LTE in South Korea.

For more:
- see this Korea IT Times article
- see this Korea Herald article
- see this LTE World article
- see this Associated Press article

Related articles:
SK Telecom is first to launch LTE multi-carrier technology
MetroPCS will launch VoLTE in 2H 2012
Qualcomm modem chipsets to feature LTE Advanced, carrier aggregation
Maravedis: South Korean trio set aggressive LTE subscriber targets
SK Telecom to deploy next-generation femtocell for data offload