Posts tagged ‘South Korea’

Interview: EVP/Director of SD, LG U+: “South Korea has become the world test-bed for next generation technologies”.

Sun Tae Kim, EVP Corp R&D, LG U+

Sun Tae Kim, EVP Corp R&D, LG U+

LG U+ believes South Korea’s market leading network status derives from the cutting-edge handsets present in the market. In this interview he details the plans for bringing further enhancements and speeds to the network over the next couple of years. To hear more about LGU+’s strategy you can hear Sun Tae Kim, EVP/Director of SD, LG U+, speak on Day Two of the 9th annual LTE Asia conference taking place on the 23rd-25th September 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. 

Operators in South Korea seem more willing and able to invest in next-gen technologies earlier than many Western operators? Why do you think this is so?

South Korea has the world-leading manufacturers of smart devices – such as Samsung and LG – and implemented nationwide LTE network sporting the best quality and functionality. But mobile subscribers have been already saturated. The Korean operators, SKT, KT, and LGU+, could not survive in the market just with existing technology and can only beat the competition with new technologies and services. As a result, South Korea has become the world test-bed for next generation technologies.

Following on from that would you say South Korean customers are more willing to try, and pay for, new mobile services?
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LTE 1800 iPhone support great news for Asian operators

According to Informa WCIS stats, as of June 2012,  there were nearly 28 million LTE customers worldwide, but that’s set to increase significantly by the end of this year and a lot of that will be down to the Asia region.

Here in London the big LTE news yesterday was that the newly renamed EE network would be launching a 4G network to be ready in time for Christmas boosted by the iPhone 5 which is being launched this evening. But it’s not just EE that has reason to be cheerful that the world’s most hyped smartphone will support LTE 1800.  In Singapore, local operator Starhub is also poised to launch LTE1800, with September 19th scheduled to be the first day of operation.

Indeed, LTE is becoming ever more established all over the Asia Pacific region. In Australia, Telstra launched LTE1800 at the end of last year, while Optus joined the LTE party this year too. Japan has over 3.5 million LTE customers with most of those on NTT DoCoMo’s LTE2100 network.

India, the Philippines and Hong Kong all have live LTE networks but the biggest area of LTE growth in Asia is South Korea. According to Informa WCIS stats over 65 per cent of the market uses an LTE network, with more than 7 million customers. Over 2.5 million of these are on LG U+ but only recently SK Telecom announced that it now has five million LTE customers, which considering it only launched its LTE network in July 2011 is pretty good going. As with many other, the network operates at 1800MHz, and it has been reported that SK Telecom was one of the major lobbyists to Apple to ensure the iPhone 5 would support its LTE network.

SK Telecom is also pushing the boundaries by becoming one of the first operators in the world to launch VoLTE, which not only keeps voice calls within the IP only confines of its LTE network but also has enabled it to launch HD Voice, brining better voice call quality along with it.

With the iPhone 5 and the ever expanding LTE numbers in the region, the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place next week in Singapore is guaranteed to be an event buzzing with essential knowledge and insight. With every major operator in the region attending, it’s set to be an unmissable event for anyone in the region’s 4G industry.

Regional operators attending include:

  • Aircel
  • LGU
  • NTT DoCoMo
  • Packet One
  • Singtel
  • Starhub
  • SK Telecom
  • YTL

If you’re not already signed up, there’s still time to ensure your presence by signing up via the event website.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Senior vice president, SK Telecom, Korea: “Focusing on the customer experience will be crucial to differentiate RCS services from OTT.”

Dr. Choi, Jin-sung, is senior vice president and head of technology strategy office for SK Telecom, Korea

Dr. Choi, Jin-sung, is senior vice president and head of technology strategy office for SK Telecom, Korea. He is speaking at the CxO operator panel discussion on the opening day of the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. He is also speaking on Day Two about VoLTE, and ahead of the conference we catch up with him to learn more about SK Telekom’s progress on this important LTE technology.

What have been the main developments and major milestones for you over the last 12 months with regards to LTE?

SK Telecom brought about a paradigm shift in the mobile telecommunications industry by securing number one competitiveness in LTE in terms of network coverage (with 99 per cent population coverage), quality and speed. The LTE coverage and performance is similar to that of the company’s 3G mobile service and it was achieved in just a year-and-a-half since the launch of its commercial LTE service.

The company was able to achieve remarkable milestones by delivering differentiated value to its customers through the development and application of cutting-edge LTE technologies such as Advanced SCAN, Femto and Multi Carrier. SK Telecom has signed up over 3.5 million LTE subscribers in just one year after starting LTE service to become the world’s second largest LTE service provider, while firmly establishing itself as the LTE market leader in Korea playing a key role in the spread and popularisation of LTE.

What are the key advantages VoLTE will bring to the table and what are the challenges?

VoLTE is an all-IP based premium communications service that offers both voice and video services characterized by seamless in-call voice-to-video call switching and content sharing by linking to RCS services. Through wider bandwidth, it provides faster call connection and better (high-definition) call quality compared to those of 2G/3G circuit-based voice service and OTT mVoIP services.

However, since customers are more sensitive to quality of voice service than that of data service, VoLTE requires the injection of additional resources and technological advancements to provide flawless network coverage and stable call quality. Moreover, operators must also consider measures to make up for decreased revenues from traditional 2G/3G voice services, which is likely to take place with the introduction of VoLTE.

Do you think VoLTE will have an impact and if so, in what time frame?

VoLTE will gain popularity only when it becomes competitive and marketable through stable quality, seamless coverage, attractive price plans, additional services and expanded VoLTE-capable device line-up. Therefore, it is difficult to predict a specific time frame as it will largely depend on the market type, competitive landscape, business strategy and the level of ecosystem maturation. For the time being, most operators are expected to mainly provide CSFB (Circuit Switched Fallback)-based voice service with VoLTE as an optional service.

Will technology such as the IMS based Joyn be able to compete with OTT voice players?

OTT service only enables communication between customers who downloaded the application, whereas RCS services like Joyn allows users to call/chat with and send multimedia contents to any number stored in the phone address book. RCS services’ strength lies in the stability, reliability and security guaranteed by telecommunications companies. Thus, a speedy response focusing on the customer experience will be crucial to differentiate RCS services from OTT services.

How important are small cells to your network roll-out plans?

Going forward, LTE and Wi-Fi networks are expected to handle large volume data. Since it is not easy to secure wideband frequency, small cells such as femtocells and wifi that expand network capacity by supporting efficient data distribution/offloading will become more important.

To what extent are network sharing agreements between operators necessary to make LTE roll-outs affordable?

Since all three mobile carriers in Korea have completed nationwide LTE rollout through fierce competition to gain leadership in the LTE market, the need for network sharing among operators is low. In addition, network sharing is unlikely to take place globally due to LTE frequency fragmentation and intense competition among operators to nurture LTE as their core business.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

At present, the mobile industry is witnessing an evolution to 4G LTE, the fastest telecommunications network. High speed networks not only enable fast mobile internet service but also support the advent of more innovative services. For instance, ultra-fast LTE networks will lead to the creation and provision of real-time network games and mobile video streaming services as well as more innovative convergence services like health care and smart learning services.

What are the main challenges you expect to face in the next 12 months?

As SK Telecom has already completed nationwide LTE deployment the main challenges going forward will be to boost its LTE service and to differentiate it in the marketplace by developing many attractive LTE business models and to provide a more stable service through commercialisation of diverse next generation LTE-A technologies. Furthermore, SK Telecom will need to focus on driving the evolution of the ICT industry by cooperating with other ICT players that are continuously developing new and innovative services.

The LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

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