By Yoon Ja-young
SK Telecom, the country’s biggest mobile carrier, is pushing to get ahead in the fourth-generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) competition, announcing it will complete a nationwide network by April next year, eight months faster than originally planned.
“When the LTE network is established in 84 cities around the country, subscription will grow explosively,” a representative for the carrier said, Tuesday.
SK Telecom had targeted 500,000 LTE subscriptions by the end of this year, but the ultra-fast network service is attracting more subscribers than expected. The number of customers using the service hit 260,000 as of November, and one out of three people subscribing to SK Telecom services are choosing LTE ― some 15,000 new LTE subscriptions each day.
Technology to solve data traffic jams
SK Telecom announced that it would adopt the most advanced technology to deal with data traffic problems. Currently, its daily traffic averages around 0.3 petabytes, but it is expected to surpass 1 petabyte in 2013 ― equal to 270 million MP3 files or watching high-definition DVD for 767 years.
The mobile carrier said it would adopt advanced technology to provide a more stable network service despite the data explosion. It plans to complete developing LTE Femtocell, or micro stations, by the end of the year. LTE zones will be configured in offices, homes and schools to provide better quality services.
It will also set up 1 million upgraded repeaters in buildings and basements so that users can enjoy LTE coverage anywhere. The technology dubbed “Advanced-SCAN,” a cloud-based service, enhances the speed and capacity of LTE networks.
“Our tests showed that our LTE service is eight times faster than 3G, and 1.4 times faster than LTE networks of our competitors. Especially in buildings, the quality was incomparably better,” said Kwon Hyun-sang, the head of the networks division.
The carrier plans to diversify mobile rate packages for LTE users as they have shown a different data consumption pattern compared with those using 3G ― 1.6 gigabytes of data a month, on average, or 45 percent more than 3G users. They were especially accessing more high-definition videos, the Internet, and social networking, messenger, and mobile trading services compared with 3G users. A survey showed that they want to use more multimedia content such as videos and network games in the future. However, there was complaint among LTE users that they can’t fully enjoy full services as mobile carriers don’t provide unlimited data use.
To satisfy these consumers, SK will launch data plans that enable users to pay for each download of a movie, or pay fixed monthly fees for mobile games.