Tri-Band LTE-A Network Goes Live In South Korea

South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom is now offering the “world’s first” Tri-Band LTE-A network to a select group of consumers in the country, offering peak speeds of 300Mps.

Tri-Band LTE-A combines frequencies in three bands – 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz – and claims to be four times faster than standard 4G and 21 times quicker than 3G.

SK Telecom has used carrier aggregation to offer a 150Mbps LTE-A service since June 2013 using the 800MHz and 1.8GHz frequencies and launched a 225Mbps network June by increasing the amount of bandwidth in the 1.8GHz band.

SK Tri-Band LTE-A

The company says it will build 26,000 2.1GHz base stations across the country, targeting the capital Seoul, the central areas of other major cities and all subway lines.

“With the launch of the world’s first tri-band LTE-A service, we will not only provide our customers with unprecedented network speeds, but also offer differentiated and diverse mobile value-added services that meet customers’ needs and interests,” says Lee Jong-bong, head of SK Telecom’s network division.

Those wanting to use the network will have to use a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE and will be asked to provide feedback which will be used to improve the service. SK Telecom has 16.3 million 4G customers and says the advent of Tri-Band LTE-A is the latest attempt by the operator to establish leadership in the ongoing development of mobile networks.

Plans for four and five band aggregation are already underway and SK Telecom is also working on 5G. The South Korean government itself has pledged £905 million to rollout next generation networks by 2020.

In the UK, EE and Vodafone use carrier aggregation to offer 150Mbps LTE-A networks in a number of cities and the former is currently trialling 300Mbps with a view to testing a 400Mbps network at Wembley Stadium.

EE, which is set to be snapped up by BT, announced last year it had successfully completed LTE Cat 9 tests that could offer speeds of 410Mbps. EE, along with Huawei and Qualcomm, achieved this by aggregating 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with another 20MHz of 2.6GHz, and a third carrier of 15MHz of 2.6GHz.

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Steve McCaskill

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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