It is set to be one of the first commercial rollouts of the technology, known as HSDPA, and is being supported by equipment providers Nortel and LG Electronics, which struck up a joint venture relationship in August. Nortel will provide the HSDPA technology while LG will provide the UMTS core network equipment.
Korea is one of the most advanced markets for broadband and cellular communications, which, in turn, has driven operators to offer better technology and services to keep customers engaged.
SK Telecom is hoping to deepen its offerings with interactive games, music downloads, DVD-quality videos, real-time multimedia collaboration and e-mail with large attachments. The switch to HSDPA is supposed to slash the download times for music and data files from minutes to seconds, assuming good network conditions.
SK Telecom's commercial launch of UMTS services is due to start next month in Pusan, Korea's second largest city, and the southern provinces of Gyeongsang-do, Jeolla-do and Jeju Island. The commercial launch of HSDPA will follow in early 2006.
Nortel said its HSDPA technology can help operators reduce operating costs, enable high-quality communications through more efficient use of the existing network, increase capacity by handling more data traffic, and support additional users per cell site.
Nortel has worked with a number of wireless operators on HSDPA trials and deployments in 2005, including KTF in Korea, Softbank Group's BB Mobile, mmO2, Orange at the 3GSM World Congress 2005 in Cannes, France, Vodafone at CeBIT 2005 in Hanover, Germany, Partner Communications in Israel, and Mobilkom in Austria.