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SK Telecom aims to deploy 5,000 base stations

The South Korean telco has so far deployed 30,000 units of 2.1 GHz base stations

South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom is looking to deploy 5,000 additional base stations by the end of the year in support of the firm’s tri-band carrier aggregation service, the company’s EVP for public relations Yoon Yong-chul, told RCR Wireless News.

“We are currently offering this service in Seoul and its metropolitan area, in six metropolitan cities, as well as major areas of 85 cities nationwide. So far, we have deployed a total of 30,000 units of 2.1 gigahertz base stations,” the executive said.

The “tri-band CA” service was commercially launched at the end of last year and offers data speeds of up to 300 megabits per second by aggregating three component carriers in three different frequency bands: 20 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.8 GHz band, 10 megahertz in the 800 MHz band and 10 megahertz in the 2.1 GHz band.

The executive said that SK Telecom expects total capital expenditures for 2015 to reach 2 trillion won ($1.68 billion). Yong-chul said the telco will continue to invest to enhance the quality of its mobile networks, including “wideband LTE” and “tri-band CA LTE-A.”

The wideband LTE services aggregates 20 megahertz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band and 10 megahertz in the 1.8 GHz band, producing peak data speeds of 225 Mbps.

Commenting on the current coverage of the telco’s LTE-Advanced network, Yong-chul affirmed the service currently reaches 99% of the country’s population. SK Telecom has already deployed a total of 230,000 LTE base stations nationwide.

“Further evolution of LTE-A networks will depend on a number of factors including additional frequency resource and the development of relevant technologies,” he added.

The Asian telco ended the second quarter with 22.66 million subscribers. LTE subscribers totaled 17.93 million at the end of June, representing 62.6% of the telco’s overall subscriber base.

“The company is expecting to see a constant increase in the number of our LTE subscribers. Also, the proportion of LTE subscribers within its total mobile subscriber base is projected to grow continuously,” Yong-chul said.

The telco had initially launched LTE in the South Korean market in July 2011.

The executive also said that the operator is scheduled to open a “5G” testbed within this year, and plans to launch a pre-5G trial in 2018 and a commercial 5G service in 2020.

Growth strategy

In April, SK Telecom unveiled its new growth strategy, which is based on a customer-centric approach. Under the new strategy, SK Telecom is focusing on three next-generation platforms, namely its Lifestyle Enhancement Platform, Advanced Media Platform and IoT Service Platform.

“Under the new strategy, the company will look at things from the user’s point of view and actively work with diverse partners, including venture companies, startups and SMEs, to achieve breakthrough performance,” Yong-chul said.

In July, SK Telecom launched the first Lifestyle Enhancement Platform named “Club T Kids” by combining content, community and commerce services. SK Telecom also acquired the remaining 49.4% stake in SK Broadband to make the company its wholly owned subsidiary as a means to fortify its media platform and further developed its “Internet of Things” platforms in both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business areas.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Juan Pedro Tomás
Juan Pedro Tomás
Juan Pedro covers Global Carriers and Global Enterprise IoT. Prior to RCR, Juan Pedro worked for Business News Americas, covering telecoms and IT news in the Latin American markets. He also worked for Telecompaper as their Regional Editor for Latin America and Asia/Pacific. Juan Pedro has also contributed to Latin Trade magazine as the publication's correspondent in Argentina and with political risk consultancy firm Exclusive Analysis, writing reports and providing political and economic information from certain Latin American markets. He has a degree in International Relations and a master in Journalism and is married with two kids.

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