KT ahead of SK in LTE speed, says U.K. report

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KT ahead of SK in LTE speed, says U.K. report

Eight of 10 smartphone users in Korea have LTE services, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said yesterday, while a report by a U.K. wireless research company ranked KT as having the fastest LTE service in Korea and the sixth-fastest in the world.

The number of LTE subscribers was estimated to have exceeded 30 million just 32 months after the service was introduced in the domestic market.

The Science Ministry said SK Telecom had 13.9 million LTE subscribers at the end of January, while KT had 8.2 million and LG U+ 7.3 million.

Although the total number of LTE users was slightly less than 30 million last month, the ministry said the number of users easily exceeded that plateau in February considering LTE use grew 700,000 to 900,000 per month last year.

As of last month, the number of smartphone users in the country was 37.82 million, said the ministry.

The tug of war between the three mobile carriers to dominate the LTE market was cited as the main reason for the steep growth of the service.

SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ have improved LTE quality by introducing carrier aggregation as the first step in LTE Advanced commercialization, which offers increased data speeds, building a nationwide network and launching broadband services.

The three mobile carriers also have engaged in a fierce competition involving subsidies on smartphones to steal users from each other in the saturated market.

While securing 30 million LTE subscribers, the three mobile carriers have faced fines and business suspensions five times. The Science Ministry plans to impose yet another suspension of business on these companies for violating an order by the Korea Communications Commission to stop the subsidy competition.

The robust LTE market has also changed the three mobile carriers’ market share. The country’s No. 3 mobile carrier LG U+ increased its share from 18 percent to 19 percent since the start of LTE service and to 19.89 percent last month.

No. 1 carrier SK Telecom, which increased its market share to 54.52 percent in December 2003, has maintained a 50 percent level since 2002, controlling 50.04 percent last month. KT is fighting to maintain its 30 percent share of the market.

Meanwhile, KT said it topped SK Telecom in the nation’s LTE speed competition in a report by wireless network market research firm OpenSignal, which is based in the United Kingdom.

The report by OpenSignal said the download rate of KT’s LTE service was 21.3 megabits per second. It occupied the No. 6 position in the world among 40 other companies.

KT and SK Telecom were the only Korean carriers evaluated.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]



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