SK Telecom has begun a pilot service of Multi Carrier (MC) technology to enable use of both 800 MHz and 1.8 GHz frequency bands. Promising unrivalled LTE service speed and quality, the trial is running in the area from Gangnam Station to Kyobo Tower Crossroads. The South Korean operator expects to launch commercial MC service in July 2012. SK Telecom plans to cover the whole Seoul area by the end of 2012 and 23 other cities by early 2013.
SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) announced today the world’s first launch of pilot service for Multi Carrier (MC), a technology that enables use of both 800MHz and 1.8GHz frequency bands, in the area from Gangnam Station to Kyobo Tower Crossroads, and also revealed plans for its commercial launch in July 2012.
■ Secures twice wider frequency bandwidth to support unrivalled LTE service speed and quality
With the commercialization of MC, SK Telecom will be able to offer the fastest LTE speed in Korea as it will be utilizing twice wider frequency bandwidth than its competitors.
The company developed MC technology to utilize both its existing 800MHz frequency band and the 1.8GHz band it newly acquired in the second half of last year. With an additional 20MHz uplink/downlink spectrum, it will be using a total of 40MHz for its LTE services.
The biggest strength of MC lies in that it allows the use of additional frequency bands and enables effective and efficient use of frequencies. As it chooses the faster one between the two frequency bands for LTE communications, mobile data traffic is optimally distributed to each frequency band, preventing network overload.
The MC system is similar to building an additional road in the always-congested area and then controlling the traffic to ensure smooth flow on both roads. For instance, upon detecting LTE user concentration in the 800MHz band, the system automatically moves data traffic to 1.8GHz to improve data rate. Therefore, LTE users can experience the fastest speed even at times of unexpected surges of mobile data traffic.
■ Commercialization of MC to begin July 2012, with plans to cover the whole Seoul area within 2012 and 23 other major cities by early 2013
SK Telecom will complete the optimization of handset-network interworking and handover between frequencies during the MC pilot service period and plans to commercialize the MC service in July 2012. The technology will be applied to all areas of Seoul in 2012 and expanded to 23 cities nationwide including metropolitan cities by early 2013.
SK Telecom already embedded the MC feature in Vega Racer 2 released in May 2012 and is currently in talks with device manufacturers to include MC as a basic feature for LTE smartphones. Upon commercialization of the MC service in July, users of Vega Racer 2 can receive automatic firmware upgrade by authorizing the process via responding to the text message sent to them.
MC service does not support existing LTE devices due to differences in frequency bands
■ Use of 1.8GHz to help spread LTE roaming service
The use of 1,8GHz frequency band will allow SK Telecom to offer LTE roaming service in many different countries. Currently, around 10 countries in Asia and Europe have chosen the 1.8GHz band for LTE services and it is expected that more and more operators around the world will use 1.8GHz, a GSM frequency band, for LTE.
Furthermore, the use of the 1.8GHz, the mainstream frequency spectrum for global LTE deployment, will boost the adoption of diverse LTE devices and network equipment, thereby allowing the company to secure differentiated competitiveness to maintain its unrivalled leadership in the Korean market.
Kwon Hyuk-Sang, Executive Vice President and Head of Network Division at SK Telecom said, "SK Telecom will provide the fastest and the most reliable LTE service through the world’s first adoption of the innovative Multi Carrier technology that allows for the use of twice wider frequency bandwidth than its competitors in Korea. Building on this milestone, SK Telecom will maintain its efforts to keep setting new standards for excellence in LTE services."