Operators look to SK Telecom for LTE-Advanced leadership

Sue Marek

The four major U.S. operators are all expected to deploy some elements of LTE-Advanced based upon 3GPP release 10 standard this year, and most are closely watching South Korean operator SK Telecom's progress with its LTE-Advanced network for guidance. SK, which launched LTE-A in July of 2013, uses carrier aggregation to combine disparate spectrum bands to efficiently increase network speeds.

In fact, the carrier announced earlier this week that it will build out more 1.8 GHz base stations to provide 20 MHz of additional LTE bandwidth across the country. In addition, it said it is close to deploying 10 MHz of the 2.1 GHZ band that will enable it to provide 40 MHz of carrier-aggregated bandwidth.

Overall, SK Telecom plans to have nationwide LTE and LTE-Advanced coverage, delivering download speeds of 150 Mbps, by year-end. Of course, consumers looking to take advantage of those data speeds will need compatible devices with chipsets that can handle those lightning-fast speeds. Nevertheless, SK is definitely laying the groundwork that operators in the U.S. and elsewhere hope to eventually exploit.

Indeed, ABI Research expects that half a billion subscribers will be using LTE-Advanced by 2018, representing more than one-third of all LTE-related subscriptions.

LTE-Advanced is expected to be one of the key topics discussed at next week's Mobile World Congress 2014 trade show in Barcelona, Spain. I'll be focusing on the topic during the FierceWireless Executive Luncheon, "The Road to LTE Advanced," on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.

At this event I will be joined by:

  • Kris Rinne, SVP of network architecture and planning at AT&T;
  • Alex Jinsung Choi, executive vice president and head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom; 
  • Aicha Evans, VP of the Platform Engineering Group at Intel; 
  • Chris Pearson, president of 4G Americas;
  • and Rasmus Hellberg, senior director of technical marketing at Qualcomm.

During the panel discussion, we will talk about the current status of LTE-Advanced globally and will look at the pros and cons of deploying the technology.

Also, if you're interested in the Internet of Things, I encourage you to check out my colleague Mike Dano's panel, "The Internet of Things: Where will the wireless industry play?" on Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.

I hope you can attend "The Road to LTE Advanced" panel discussion, which promises to provide some of that latest on LTE-Advanced capabilities and challenges. Register today by clicking on this link. --Sue