Korea’s largest mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. said Wednesday that it will hire three companies to supply equipment to build a long-term evolution network as the mobile operator braces for a surge in wireless data demand.
Samsung Electronics Co., LG-Ericsson Co. and Nokia Siemens Networks B.V. will supply equipment for the LTE network, SK Telecom said in a statement.
The mobile operator plans to start commercial service of the LTE, a faster generation of mobile network, in July in Seoul, and expand the service to six major Korean cities in 2012.
Mobile carriers around the world are facing a mounting challenge from data-gobbling smartphones and tablet PC users as they download video, music and files on wireless networks.
SK Telecom said it saw about an eight-fold increase in data traffic between July and December. In July, the company began to offer an unlimited data subscription plan. The company secured 3.91 million smartphone users as of the end of 2010.
SK Telecom earmarked 2 trillion won ($1.79 billion) as 2011 investment on its current 3G network and the upcoming LTE network.
Once the commercial LTE service starts, the network’s capacity to handle data traffic will increase about three-fold, compared with its current WCDMA network, SK Telecom said.