SK in talks with Vodafone for LTE
By Kim Yoo-chul
SK Telecom, the nation's top mobile carrier, said Tuesday that it is in talks with U.K firm Vodafone to further develop its in-house advanced telecommunications technology. The firm said the move is part of efforts to strengthen alliances to enable a global presence.
The so-called Smart Push technology is the primary target for the United Kingdom-based telecom group. ``Collaboration with Vodafone will be strengthened as it has keen interest in using the SK technology amid the migration into data-intensive long-term evolution (LTE),’’ said an SK executive, Tuesday.
In February, senior Vodafone executives, who manage the corporate network-related strategies, met with SK Telecom officials in Seoul and tentatively agreed to forge a close tie-up in LTE services.
The Smart Push tech, which is one of SK Telecom’s ``PETA’’-dubbed solutions, enables the smooth usage of social networking services or messengers and also facilitates the large amount of data traffic on Web-connected smartphones and tablets.
Vodafone isn’t the only firm that wants to boost a strategic partnership with the Korean mobile carrier. France’s No. 2 carrier SFR has also approached SK Telecom to check out the development phase of SK’s LTE solutions before entering into a comprehensive partnership, SK said.
SK Telecom is partnering with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for the Smart Push technology. Under the pact, the Korean firm is providing the solution, while NSN will be in charge of overseas sales.
``We have signed various non-binding memorandum of understanding with top overseas carriers. One inspiring signal is that they want to learn from our experiences and know-how in managing LTE services,’’ said a company spokesman.
SK Telecom is Korea’s top LTE service provider with the number of its customers exceeding 3.6 million as of last Friday, followed by LG Uplus and KT with 2.9 million and 1.5 million, respectively.
Currently, the flagship of SK Group is the world’s second-biggest LTE service provider beating Japan’s NTT DOCOMO but behind Verizon Wireless of the United States.
To offset the stalling local growth, all Korea’s three carriers are heavily investing in LTE networks, though huge costs for promotional campaigns in the nascent but growing market are causing them to suffer from a steep decline in profit.
Although SK Telecom was late in LTE solutions, the carrier has begun stealing share from rivals by offering high-end LTE solutions including Multi-Carrier, Advanced-SCAN and Hybrid Network Integration System as well as PETA.
In a statement, SK said Taiwan Mobile Chief Technology Officer Tom Koh also recently visited the firm’s headquarters to discuss several pending issues with SK management. ``Taiwan Mobile has requested the meeting,’’ he said, adding the partnership has been expanded to education, healthcare and security.