Korea's SK Telecom has launched the world's first commercial LTE-Advanced network, along with the first phone running the faster network technology, the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A. Customers will have access free based on their existing data plans, and the service will initially be available in central areas of Seoul and 42 cities in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do, as well as 103 university areas. SK plans to expand the service with seven supporting smartphones by the end of this year and reach 84 cities covered.
The network offers up to 150 Mbps, double the speed of the existing LTE network. It employs carrier aggregation and coordinated multi point technology to enhance coverage and bandwidth, and SK plans to add enhanced inter-cell interference coordination next year.
The first LTE-A phone will be available in red exclusively to SK, and the carrier has ordered an initial 20,000 units. Samsung said LG Uplus also plans to offer the phone in blue, and Qualcomm announced KT will also carry the phone. The device features the new Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm, as well as a 2,600 mAh battery, 5.0-inch full HD screen, 13 megapixel camera, Android 4.2 and 32 GB internal storage.
The faster speeds on LTE-A are expected to support SK's popular content services. New additions will include a group calling service for up to four users, based on the 3G videoconferencing service but with better video and audio quality, and full HD (1080p resolution) over the Btv mobile video streaming service (550,000 subscribers) from early July. The company will also launch 'T Baseball Multiview,' to enable users to watch two different games on one screen in July. T Baseball is a free baseball broadcast service optimized to the LTE network. Launched in August 2012, the service has 1.1 million users.
In addition, SK Telecom plans to launch 'T Freemium 2.0,' an upgrade of its free multimedia content package with TV shows, music videos and sports highlights and introduce in August an HD video-based shopping service with six channels on one screen. Also, SK Telecom's music portal MelOn opened a new service category to allow users to listen to original CD quality music by downloading FLAC files.
To further boost content creation, SK Telecom will hold the contest 'LTE-A i.con' to support applications optimized for the LTE-A network.
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