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The Wireless Blog from Unwired Insight discusses the latest developments in wireless networks and services, including the new technologies and architectures of LTE-Advanced and 5G. For expert advice on 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G mobile systems and standards, including GSM, UMTS, LTE, LTE-Advanced and 5G-NR, please contact us.

Mobile data traffic increases 20-fold in less than a year in South Korea

Photograph of Alastair BrydonAs part of its announcement of the launch of its LTE network, SK Telecom in South Korea provided information on mobile data traffic, which is continuing to increase substantially.

SK Telecom said that monthly data traffic recorded in June 2011 was 19 times greater than in August 2010. It predicts that the “dramatic” increase in data traffic will continue with the “spread” of smart devices.

SK Telecom believes that LTE technology is essential to support this traffic growth. In line with our own analysis, SK Telecom considers that LTE can provide roughly three times the amount of capacity of existing HSPA networks (for the same amount of spectrum). SK Telecom predicts that around 65% of its total data traffic will be handled by its LTE network by 2014, and it expects to have 10 million LTE users by 2015.

SK Telecom is forecasting substantial traffic growth, so LTE may be insufficient on its own to cope with future traffic increases. Therefore, it expects to introduce LTE-Advanced – a major upgrade to LTE – around 2013, which could provide download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Many mobile network operators, particularly in the UK, are addressing their HSPA network capacity crises by substantially reducing monthly data allowances (making mobile data services far less attractive to some consumers). However, SK Telecom is adopting a different approach. With the enhanced capacity offered by LTE, it is actively promoting opportunities for smart mobile working, learning and education, and healthcare. In fact it is strongly encouraging usage-intensive mobile services. For example, its T Store application store currently offers about 10,000 high-definition videos. Furthermore, SK Telecom plans to launch a high-quality video phone service, delivered at a speed of 500kbps.

With the growth in the take-up of mobile broadband services slowing in the UK (which will be discussed in a forthcoming blog), it will be interesting to compare the progress in the UK over the next two years with those markets that are taking a lead in mobile broadband.

Dr Alastair Brydon has worked in digital radio communications for over 25 years. He provides expert advice on 2G, 3G and 4G mobile systems and standards including GSM, UMTS and LTE. He has written over 40 reports on the development of wireless technologies and services and has acted as an expert witness in major patent disputes.

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