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SK Telecom in Korea launched its new commercial scale High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) network in May 2006. The technology will support data rates of 14.4Mbps; however, currently there are no suitable HSDPA devices on the market in Korea and the latest HSDPA enabled equipment can only support 1.8Mbps. The SK Telecom network is way ahead of its time. The service is recognised as being the world’s first commercial handset-based HSDPA network. The 3.5G network has been launched as 3G Plus to distinguish it from WCDMA (wide band code division multiple access).

With the introduction of new faster mobile devices the downlink speed is expected to be able to reach 3.6Mbps by early 2007, 7.2Mbps by the end of 2007 and 14.4Mbps by 2008. SK Telecom hopes to be able to attract over 300,000 subscribers for HSDPA by the end of 2006. SK Telecom is preparing to boost HSDPA subscriptions with a new video call rate, named the W Standard Rate, which will soon be offered to 3G+ members. The company is also dishing out various promotions on video and data call services.

HSDPA FOR KOREA

The SK Telecom HSDPA Service is currently available in 25 major cities, including Seoul, Incheon, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Jeju. The company plans to quickly extend its network to cover a total of 84 cities in Korea, aiming to provide full service across the country. The HSDPA network has required an investment of KRW1.6 trillion in 2006.

The planned network expansion will continue with a further investment of KRW240bn and be completed by early 2007. The network was initially installed by LG-Nortel, a joint venture of LG Electronics and Nortel Networks. LG-Nortel will continue the network expansion work into 2007 and complete the contract.

HSDPA HANDSETS AND DIGITAL BROADCASTING

The SK Telecom HSDPA network will use the Samsung W200 handset and also the LG SH-100; there will also be four to five other models added to the range by the end of 2006. The W200 is a slide-up satellite DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) phone with a 2.0 mega pixel camera.

South Korea started S-DMB and T-DMB services in 2005. The T-DMB service in South Korea consists of seven TV channels, 13 radio channels, and eight data channels. These are broadcast on six multiplexes in the VHF band on TV channels 8 and 12 (6MHz raster).

The S-DMB service in South Korea consists of seven TV channels and 20 radio channels. S-DMB service is provided on a subscription basis through TU Media and is accessible throughout the country. T-DMB service is provided free of charge, but access is limited in selected regions.

SERVICES ON 3G PLUS

"The upgraded 3G+ HSDPA service includes characteristics such as high-quality video call service, ultra-speed data transfer and efficient global roaming."

The upgraded 3G+ HSDPA service includes characteristics such as high-quality video call service, ultra-speed data transfer and efficient global roaming. The company aims to maximise the quality of service and create a more sophisticated mobile lifestyle for its customers. 3G+ shifts the focus of mobile phones from audio to video format.

Users can break free from the voice service centred market and conduct their mobile communication through features such as video calls, video chat, video colour ring and video mailbox. The new 3G technology will also expand video call services by including web-to-phone services and Internet phones (VoIP) as well as basic phone-to-phone video conferencing.

Every 3G+ phone will be equipped with a rich Quarter Video Graphics Array (QVGA) (320 × 240 pixel) screen that allows users to view high-resolution video content. QVGA-quality contents will initially include movies, educational programs and in the future apply to all multimedia contents of 3G+. 3G+ will offer WCDMA automatic global roaming with 10 different mobile service providers in regions such as Japan, Singapore, Italy and France.

Global roaming will expand to include European countries such as the UK and Spain, and WCDMA-serviced areas in Asia such as the Philippines and Malaysia. The company is also developing technologies to add everyday services, such as traffic card, membership card and coupon features, and monetary services, such as M-bank, credit card and MSTOCK functions, to USIM cards. The leading mobile service provider also has plans to complete the development of a USIM card equipped with a traffic card function within the year.