SKT to introduce ultra-fast 4.5G LTE network

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Apr 20, 2017 - 15:28
  • Updated : Apr 20, 2017 - 17:31
South Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom said Thursday that it will introduce an ultra-fast Long Term Evolution network that is around nine times faster than conventional LTE speeds in the country next month.

The new network service, dubbed the “4.5G network,” will become available on the newly-launched Samsung Galaxy S8 from next month via a software upgrade, SKT said.
Choi Seung-won (center), senior vice president of SKT’s infrastructure strategy division, poses during a press event to mark the company’s introduction of a 700 Mbps LTE network based on 5-band CA technology (SKT)

SKT achieved this high-tier LTE network — boasting a transmission speed of 700 Mbps, fast enough to download a 2 GB HD video in just 23 seconds — through “5-band Carrier Aggregation,” a technology that merges five differing frequency bands into one band, raising data speed and performance.

It’s similar to how a highway which expands its number of lanes from one to seven will see improved communication between vehicles and enhanced mobility, explained Choi Seung-won, senior vice president of SKT’s infrastructure strategy division.

The upcoming 700 Mbps LTE is faster than the 500 Mbps LTE which SKT began servicing here from June 2016.

The Korean carrier called this 5-band CA technology the last stage in the LTE revolution and the backbone for the 4.5G network that sits between today’s 4G and the coming era of 5G technology.

SKT will begin offering its 4.5G network in 23 cities in Korea including Seoul from late-May, with plans to expand coverage to 85 regions in the country by the end of this year, bringing its service to 51 percent of the Korean population, it said.

It plans to apply the advanced LTE network to new high-end smartphones to be released in the future as well.

The telecom firm’s next goal is to achieve a data speed to 1 Gbps. To do so, it is looking to first commercialize a 4.5G network service reaching a speed of 800 Mbps by next month and a speed of 900 Mbps by the year’s end and continue scaling up the target.

On top of 5-band CA, the firm will add two new technologies — the four-by-four multiple-input multiple-output (4x4 MIMO) and 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (256 QAM).

The former is a technology that simultaneously makes use of four antennas to double the amount of data that can be transmitted at once while the latter improves data downlink efficiency by 33 percent, SKT said.

SKT also pledged to make use of artificial intelligence computing and its operational expertise to ensure the quality of its network service in a time when data traffic is quickly rising.

“Even as LTE deployment rates have surpassed 80 percent, data traffic is constantly increasing. Given this, we’re working to handle the added traffic with our flagship technologies so that we can ensure our users can continue to access heightened network speed and quality,” Choi said.

By Sohn Ji-young (