Posts tagged ‘SK Telecom’

SKT in good voice as it shows operators the way to go

SKtAt the second day of yesterday’s LTE Voice conference, which took place in London, the presentation by Changsoon Choi of SK Telecom attracted a positive responses from the audience, and really brought home how ahead of the game the South Koreans are in LTE and with particular relevance to the conference, in terms of VoLTE.

Choi started with a simple list of SKT’s achievements in LTE so far. As of 2012 it had 99 per cent population coverage based on a dual layer 850MHz and 1800MHz multi-band network and currently has 89 cities running dual-carrier LTE Advanced, all of which means it’s no surprise is enjoys 48 per cent market share for LTE in the country.

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Interview: CTO of SK Telecom: “LTE has become the global mainstream service.”

SKT_CTO_PHOTO_s

Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telecom, regarding the company’s award for winning the ‘Most Significant Development of a Commercial LTE Network’ award.

Tell us more about your LTE Awards 2013 entry.

SK Telecom has continuously developed and commercialised diverse innovative network technologies to provide the best LTE service to customers. Since launching Korea’s first LTE network using the 800MHz frequency band in July 2011, SK Telecom completed its nationwide LTE rollout in June 2012. It is now providing seamless LTE service in underground and in-building areas as well as mountainous regions and coastal/island areas through the world’s first commercialisation of LTE femtocells in June 2012. Furthermore, after acquiring 1.8GHz frequency band, SK Telecom developed and applied the world’s first Multi Carrier (MC) to offer faster and more reliable LTE service through effective operation of the two frequency bands (800MHz and 1.8GHz) in July 2012. Moreover, based on its strong network, SK Telecom achieved the world’s first commercialisation of nationwide VoLTE in August, 2012.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

SK Telecom was able to differentiate itself from others by developing and applying breakthrough LTE technologies, securing the richest LTE smartphone line-up and providing a wide variety of mobile value-added services optimised for the LTE network. Based on such efforts, the number of SK Telecom’s LTE subscribers grew rapidly to reach about 11 million (as of the end of June 2013), taking it up to around 40 per cent of SK Telecom’s total mobile subscriber base.

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No lag for SK Telecom as it turbo boosts LTE

Following on from our LTE at MWC round-up from last week, I thought we’d go into a little bit more depth on what SK Telecom is doing. Why? Because SK Telecom is one of the world leaders in LTE. According to Informa WCIS stats, as of December 2012 South Korea leads the way with LTE with 32.5% of all subscribers in the country using LTE. It has 7.5m of its subscribers on LTE subscriptions, some 25% of its total user base and it hopes that by the end of 2013 that will go up to 60%. It’s an ambitious figure but it does enjoy coverage of 98% of the country.

When you consider that in the UK, O2 has just been awarded the licence for 800MHz spectrum with an obligation to provide 98% coverage, the difference is stark. In a nutshell, South Korea is way ahead.

Clearly it is in its interests to get everybody across to LTE as soon as possible. It will want to recoup those investments it’s made in LTE and the more people move across the sooner it can leverage the benefits of the lower cost-per-bit of LTE.

If you want to know more about SK Telecom’s latest LTE advances first-hand, Dr Byun Jae-woan is speaking at the LTE World Summit in June. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

No surprise then that at Mobile World Congress SK Telecom said that it would be taking things to the next level and demoing LTE Advanced, with plans to commercialise it in the second half of 2013. After all with strong competitors in the form of KT Corp and LG U+ it can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

The LTE Advanced it showed at MWC consisted of ‘Super Cell’, a concept that uses cell virtualisation to improve network capacity by reducing inter-cell interference. It also helps to ensure better call handovers between cells. It’s still possible to get cut off when travelling between cells today so that’s a welcome improvement.

Top speed is the big news though and the LTE Advanced solution can comfortably deliver 150Mbps to a handset.  A 1.4GB HD movie would download in just 75 seconds SK Telecom is pleased to tell us. (Thunk. Don’t worry, that’s just the sound of someone who’s just signed up to EE on a 500MB cap hitting the floor after fainting).

LTE. It's fast in a completely different way to a McLaren F1.

LTE. It’s fast in a completely different way to a McLaren F1. (See below)

SK also demonstrated VoLTE, which the company has successfully deployed. This is in large part thanks to its widespread LTE coverage layer, which means it doesn’t have to worry about the tricky business of handing over calls to 2G or 3G.

Another good news story for LTE from the house of SK, was that it announced that it had an impressive one million users on its Joyn.T application, all garnered in just 50 days since its launch in December 2012.

Joyn.T, is the RCS-based offering created by operator in a bid to give them a tool to be the OTT guys such as Skype and WhatsApp. It’s good news for the Joyn backers the GSMA, which had to contend with Deutsche Telekom announcing that it was delaying its Joyn deployment for more extensive testing.

On the infrastructure side the news was the SK Telecom was working with Nokia Siemens Networks, the struggling telecoms infrastructure vendor that has seen resurgence in recent months.  NSN was boasting of its so called ‘Liquid Application’ technology, the main thrust of which is essentially to put more intelligence into the base stations in a bid to improve latency. This is a good move.

What many people don’t realise is the latency enhancements in LTE are where most of the real world perceived benefits come from. It’s all about responsiveness. Poor latency is like turbo lag in a car on a race track full of cars. If you have to wait for ages for the boost to come in, and you don’t have long stretches of road ahead of you to make use of that top speed you’re going to lose out to more nimbler connections with lower top speeds but faster responding turbos.

If that seems a little confused it’s because the parallel occurred to me as was failing to leave slower cars behind despite driving a McLaren F1. (In the Xbox 360 game Forza 4 that is – I don’t own a McLaren F1 in real life you probably won’t be surprised to know). It was the laggy turbo in the F1 you see, and the track didn’t let me go above fourth gear at any point, so despite its 240 mph top speeds its potential bandwidth couldn’t help me. Much like a high bandwidth connection with low latency. If NSN’s Liquid Application can improve latency and top speed, it’s the best of both worlds.

SK Telecom has been boosting its backend bandwidth too though, with the announcement in January that it would be moving from 40G to 100G upgrades, giving it 8Tbps to play with on its optical network.

dr_byun

SK Telcoms’s CTO and Head of Future Technology R&D Division Byun Jae-Woan

Other interesting developments that came out of MWC this year for SK Telecom were its indoor location positioning technology, its innovative healthcare solutions such as Smartcase that used mobile connectivity to send medical information to doctors remotely, and FREND, which provide on-site diagnosis of major diseases and send that information again for 3G or 4G.

However, for SK Telecom I’d say MWC 2013 was mainly about LTE. The GSMA certainly thought so and here is a picture of SK’s CTO and Head of Future Technology R&D Division Byun Jae-Woan, proudly displaying the award the operator won from the Global Mobile Awards 2013 for the 4G LTE with PETA Solution – a cocktail of technologies to improve LTE performance involving multi carriers, femtocells, VoLTE, SON and Advanced Smart Cloud Access networks.

 

Asian operators pushing the envelope with LTE Advanced

pushing_the_envelope_posterWhile many parts of the world are awaiting LTE, Asian carriers are already moving ahead leaps and bounds by testing LTE Advanced.

Current LTE rollouts are based on Release 8 of the 3GPP standards, while LTE Advanced is based on Release 10, which was standardised in April 2011. Since then, some companies have been working on pre-release equipment, looking to get a jump on the rest of the industry.

Chief of these are equipment vendor Ericsson and SK Telecom, the biggest operator in South Korea with just under 50% market share. The two have got together to test a specific feature of core LTE Advanced technology called Transmission Mode 9. TM-9 is designed to help reduce interference between base stations to maximise signal stability and boost performance.

TM-9 is particularly smart though. It can detect when a mobile device is being used and send a different type of signal that is optimal for a mobile device (variable DM-RS – demodulation reference signals). This maximises the efficient use of the base station and guarantee’s a decent data rate for users. Early results are positive with a claimed 10-15% increase in data rates in locations where there was known inter-cell interference.

One of the best known improvements that LTE Advanced will bring is Carrier Aggregation and here ZTE have been taking strides with the world’s first use of it in a commercial network. This was the Guangdong arm of China Mobile using 20MHz of spectrum and interestingly was performed on a TD-LTE network. Peak download rate? A massive 223Mbps, more than double the peak rates quoted for Release 8 LTE.

TD-LTE also once again comes to the fore in China, having been used for a live TV broadcast – the Xiamen International Marathon beamed to the TV centres of China Central TV and Xiamen TV. The vendor here was NSN, using its SingleRAN platform with Liquid Core EPC.

It all points to a bright future for LTE.

This next evolution of LTE technology is significant as it will meet the speed requirements of what the 3GPP originally dubbed 4G. LTE Release 8 was of course not originally considered to be 4G, but the 3GPP were forced to acknowledge ‘the realities on the ground’ where even DC HSPA 3G was being dubbed 4G by some US carriers. This time round, there’s no doubt, though I suspect it will simply give some the licence to go to market with ‘True 4G’ or some such exaggeration.

If you want to hear more about the latest advances in TD-LTE then be sure to get to the inaugural TD-LTE Summit taking place on the 23rd-24th April 2013 at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel, Singapore. Click here to download the brochure

 

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