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Fierce Competition over World’s first 3-Band CA, first Release Forecast by Year End
11/14/2014 | By AN HO-CHEON (hcan@etnews.com)

Common carriers’ competition intensifies over the world’s first 3-band carrier aggregation (CA) technology commercialization. 3-band CA is a technology to increase speed up to 300 Mbps by aggregating three frequency bands. In January this year, a Korean common carrier succeeded in demonstration for the first time.


According to the communications industry, technology commercialization will be possible by the yearend or early next year at the latest. 


According to common carriers and equipment industry on the 13th, KT and LGU+ are soon to commence network link test using a 3-band CA mobile phone developed by a Korean maker. The mobile phone used in this test is a commercial level product and is different from the existing test terminals, according to sources. Mobile phone application is the final stage of 3-band CA commercialization. This is the reason common carriers have been waiting for a Qualcomm chip launch. 


Base station interoperability test (IOT) is also accelerating. SK Telecom recently installed a 3-band CA supporting software package to a base station near Seohyeon Station in Bundang (Samsung Electronics’ product) and conducted IOT test. The purpose of this test is to check if communication is carried out successfully between a terminal and a base station. 


An industry expert explains that a month is a sufficient length of time to expand package installation to a nationwide network following package stabilization. As other common carriers are conducting base station link test in the same method, some forecast that commercialization within the year will be possible. 


As the mobile phone has been manufactured and base station link tests began, common carriers’ competition over the ‘world’s first 3-band CA’ commercialization further intensified. As for LTE Advanced (LTE-A), which aggregates two frequency bands, and broadband LTE-A to utilize broadband frequency (20MHz band), SK Telecom is a step ahead of others. On the other hand, for the title of being the first in 3-band CA technology development and demonstration, common carriers are producing conflicting arguments. This is the reason competition over the first commercialization is so fierce. 


SK Telecom started operating a taskforce (TF) for the world’s first 3-band CA commercialization in the second half of this year. The company is making a full preparation to prevent any setbacks in the actual service by conducting software package application and field test. SK Telecom’s policy is to provide a service of improved speed and quality to customers by commercializing 3-band CA as the first in the world following LTE-A and broadband LTE-A. 


KT prides itself in building the largest number of base stations in Korea under its 1.8GHz broadband network and providing fast and stable data transmission environment. The company has already obtained an approval for LTE frequency pilot commercialization, and thus demonstrated 3-band CA at the World IT Show (WIS) held in Busan recently. KT is determined to focus all its competencies on 3-band CA commercialization by making full use of its competencies built over 100 years. 


LG U+ announced that it had completed preparations for 3-band CA service in Seoul and capital region through its base station software upgrade. Having completed international standardization through 3GPP in September, LG U+ plans to start providing service as soon as the terminal is released. The company’s policy is to offer differentiated benefits to customers based on its advanced network technological power, such as to demonstrate uplink CA technology as the first. 


“Commercialization within the year can be slightly tight on schedule. However, it is certain that commercialization will be completed early or in the middle of January next year,” said a common carrier executive. “Tension builds up in our handling division about which common carrier will win the title of being ‘the first.’” 


◇Terminology: 3-band CA 

This is a technology to increase speed by aggregating three LTE frequency bands. In wireless communication, maximum speed of 75Mbps is produced per 10MHz band. Domestic common carriers plan to achieve the maximum speed of 300Mbps by aggregating 10MHz, 10MHz and 20MHz frequency bands. 


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