South Korea Expected to Launch 700MHz Spectrum Auction by End-2015

South Korea is expected to auction spectrum in the 700MHz band in the second half of this year, according to the Korea Herald, which cites comments made by the chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC). With it having been suggested that the state will look to raise funds via the sale of frequencies in the aforementioned band to both mobile network operators (MNOs) and terrestrial broadcasters, the KCC chairman Choi Sung-joon was quoted as saying:

“The KCC has to prepare an exit strategy as tension is unexpectedly high between terrestrial broadcasters and mobile carriers over the use of the 700MHz frequency band … In the United States, for example, money that was saved from selling licenses is reinvested to create more content for broadcasting companies.”

It has been claimed that the KCC believes auctioning off the spectrum would help improve broadband services and ensure that mobile operators are well positioned for the eventual step up to 5G technologies. However, management at South Korea’s main broadcasters – KBS, MBC and SBS – are said to be lobbying lawmakers to pass a bill that gives them exclusive rights to the 700MHz band; the nation’s cellcos are, unsurprisingly, opposed to such plans. Commenting on the situation, the KCC executive noted:

“Telecom companies need to use more frequencies to respond to booming data traffic … Securing more high-speed frequencies also means a better service from broadcasters with ultra-high-definition (UHD) viewing quality. This is why the winner-takes-all principle shouldn’t be implemented.”

Meanwhile, although South Korea’s MNOs have said they are ready for an auction, there are concerns about the financial pressures of such a sale, with an unnamed KT official reported as saying: ‘The auction will truly burden us … But we have no option but to participate so we can have more frequencies to fuel our fifth-generation wireless service.’ For its part, an official for SK Telecom, the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, noted:

“The 5G structure must support multiple vertical industries and promote confidence in our corporate future, which is the key for investment … That will lower entry barriers for third-party developers as networks become more software-oriented.”

Tri-band LTE-A

Court Orders SKT to Halt Adverts Claiming First Commercialization of Tri-band LTE-A

South Korea’s SK Telecom (SKT) has been ordered not to run advertising in which it claims to be the first of the nation’s cellcos to have commercialized tri-band LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services, following a court ruling. With KT Corp having filed a case in which it alleged that its rival was engaging in deceptive advertising, the court considering the matter has agreed. SKT had argued that as handsets supporting Tri-band LTE-A are not yet available on the market it was misleading for SKT to claim that the network had been commercialized. With the court supporting KT’s claims, SKT has now been directed to withdraw any advertising in which it has made claims regarding a tri-band LTE-A service launch, though it is understood that the mobile market leader is considering appealing the verdict.

SK Telecom, Ericsson and Qualcomm Demonstrate LTE-A Tri-Band Carrier Aggregation

Ericsson, SK Telecom and Qualcomm successfully demonstrated live LTE Advanced Tri Band Carrier aggregation in SK Telecom’s commercial network, achieving downlink speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

The demonstration combined three separate bands of 10 MHz, 10 MHz and 20 MHz bandwidth.

Carrier Aggregation is a key component of LTE-Advanced, a technology evolution step from the current LTE networks. It enables operators to deliver even higher performance mobile data services based on ever-increasing customer needs. Carrier aggregation provides higher speeds across the LTE coverage area and is being deployed globally.

Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network R&D Center, SK Telecom, says:

“SK Telecom is pleased to successfully demonstrate Tri-Band Carrier Aggregation on its commercial network and thereby confirm the company’s system readiness for commercialization of the technology. SK Telecom believes the demonstration will serve as yet another opportunity for the company to solidify its position as a leader in LTE-Advanced.”

Tri-band Carrier Aggregation enables operators who have available spectrum in three separate bands to aggregate this spectrum together to enable higher data download speeds and improved app coverage.

Per Narvinger, Head of Product Line LTE, Ericsson, says:

“Customer demand for better app coverage means constantly looking for innovative ways to increase network performance. We are pleased to work with SK Telecom and Qualcomm Technologies in the delivery of new LTE-Advanced capabilities.”

Serge Willenegger, Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, says:

“We are pleased to collaborate with SK Telecom and Ericsson and use our Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor with integrated Gobi™ modem into achieving another industry milestone to help open the doors in the global adoption of Cat6.”

LTE-Advanced is the continuing evolution of 3GPP standards and defines new LTE capabilities for global operator deployment.


SK Telecom and Ericsson Show Off Elastic Cell, A Key Enabler for 5G

SK Telecom and Ericsson have demonstrated a key enabler for future 5G networks the so called Elastic Cell technology which can boost mobile data speeds at the edges of cell boundaries.

Elastic cell, also known as Flexible Cell, is a new technology that enables multiple cells near the handset to cooperate for every transmission, compared to the current cell-centric one where each handset communicates with only one specific cell.

A serving cell receives information on nearby cells from a handset and selects a group of cells that can improve the network quality in the cell-edge for transmission while temporarily turning off the cells that cause interferences. As a result, Elastic Cell can ensure more seamless data transmission by preventing possible quality degradation that can occur when the handset moves across cell boundaries.

According to SK Telecom and Ericsson, the demonstration confirmed that the technology can improve data transfer rate by up to 50 percent at the cell boundary areas compared to the existing LTE network.

With an aim to commercialize Elastic Cell by 2016, SK Telecom will continue to advance the technology.

Once applied, Elastic Cell will enable SK Telecom to provide the most optimized network service to each individual device regardless of its location while bringing the company one step closer to achieving the goal of ‘1Gbps data throughput anywhere’ which is also one of major issues in the minds of ‘METIS (Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society)’, an EU project for 5G research, and 5G Forum, an industry-academia R&D partnership for 5G in Korea.

Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom, said:

“SK Telecom, together with Ericsson, succeeded in the world’s first demonstration of Elastic Cell which is expected to become a prerequisite for the next generation network. We will continue to take the lead in developing a variety of technologies necessary to evolve cells.”

Earlier on July 6, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding at Ericsson’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden for joint research on 5G technologies.


SK Telecom Launches Samsung Galaxy S5 Early

Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom has introduced the Samsung Galaxy S5 for KRW 866,800. The operator discounts the handset to as low as KRW 660,000 for long-term subscribers. The phone was initially slated to launch on 11 April but this was reportedly brought forward ahead of SK Telecom’s business suspension, which is due to start in April. However, a communications official from Samsung said the company is puzzled by the launch. He said that although SK Telecom had asked for permission to start the sales of the model this month, Samsung has consistently ignored the request. Samsung has begun talks with SK Telecom to find out the reason for the early launch. SK Telecom said it launched early to accommodate its customers. Meanwhile, rivals KT and LG Uplus said they would also begin selling the Galaxy S5.


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