Carriers get nasty in frequency war

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Carriers get nasty in frequency war

Three mobile service providers’ fight over the golden frequency band of 1.8 gigahertz (GHz), which will be auctioned by the government in August, is getting nastier.

KT, the second-biggest player, yesterday proposed that the Ministry of Science, ITC and Future Planning, the top telecom regulator, prohibit the other two carriers - SK Telecom and LG U+ - from providing or launching technologically more advanced forms of the current fourth-generation, long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity.

The announcement from KT came a day after the ministry said it has come up with five options for dividing frequency bands to put on sale and will hold a public discussion session with the mobile carriers on the options and confirm the details for the auction tomorrow.

Options known to be pondered by the government include excluding KT’s participation in the bid for more bandwidth at the 1.8 GHz frequency; or giving it to the company but forcing a delay in its use until the other two are ready to cope with KT’s competitive edge.

KT wants an additional 15 megahertz (MHz) band in the 1.8 GHz frequency because it already has a 20 MHz band at that frequency, which it uses for LTE service. If it gets the additional band, the speed of its LTE service will be doubled.

SKT and LG, which have been heavily investing in technologies to upgrade their speed, say that would give KT a huge advantage for a relatively small investment.

SK and LG yesterday released separate statements to fight back against KT.

“KT is not supposed to make up for its management’s mistake of not reflecting on its lack of preparation and not making the kind of technological development efforts its rivals have made in the past years simply on the back of government policy support,” said SK in its statement.

The next-generation LTE services that KT wants to block the other two from developing are multi carrier (MC), which assigns a user two frequency bands which a smartphone can automatically switch between to achieve better data transmission speed, and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) using carrier aggregation (CA) technology.

LTE-A means a mobile phone uses the combined force of two different frequency bands, theoretically offering up to 150 Megabytes per second (Mbps), about twice the current speed.

Both SKT and LG plan to launch the services soon. Neither are being offered or developed by the KT.
The 1.8 GHz frequency is widely dubbed the “golden spectrum” and has been adopted by more than 42 LTE carriers worldwide.

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