World’s First LTE-Maritime Network Hopes To Improve Ship Safety With 100km Coverage

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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SK Telecom will trial LTE-Maritime next year, offering ships within a 100km radius of the coast better navigation and safety

South Korean operator SK Telecom is to launch the “world’s first” LTE for Maritime Wireless Communications (LTE-Maritime) network, providing ships within 100 kilometres of the coast access to high speed mobile broadband services.

A pilot network, built as part of a research project with the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), will be deployed by May 2016 off the east coast of the country, in the Sea of Japan.

A high-gain antenna will be placed at high altitude on land, transmitted an LTE signal that can be received by on-board routers that cover the ship in Wi-Fi.  SK telecom will develop both the antenna and the routers so communications can be maintained in a difficult environment, characterised by high humidity, strong winds and a salty atmosphere.


Sea of JapanIt is hoped the technology will improve the navigation capabilities and safety of smaller ships which lack the more advanced systems of larger vessels.

“SK Telecom will successfully deploy [LTE-Maritime], high-speed maritime wireless communications network, by leveraging its extensive expertise in communications technologies, and thereby contribute to enhanced safety of ships,” said Choi Seung-won, head of SK Telecom’s Network Strategy Office.

Confusingly, SK Telecom refers to LTE-Maritime as ‘LTE-M’, but this term is already used for a version of LTE earmarked for the internet of Things (IoT) called ‘LTE-Machine to Machine’.

The company is heavily involved with the development of 5G and is jointly developing and testing gigabit network technology that will underpin the next generation of mobile networks. The research partners hope to launch 5G in 2018 and launch it commercially by 2020.

Earlier this year, SK Telecom combined 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz spectrum to create the world’s first commercial Tri-Band LTE-A network, offering peak speeds of 300Mbps – four times faster than standard 4G.

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