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SK Telecom invests in LPWAN and plans IoT dedicated modules

Steve Rogerson
March 24, 2016
South Korean operator SK Telecom plans to invest KRW100bn by 2017 to boost its IoT business, including deploying LPWAN throughout the nation this year, developing IoT-dedicated modules and upgrading its ThingPlug IoT platform.
The company’s plans come in step with the Korean government’s aggressive move towards promoting new industries including the IoT industry. In particular, the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning decided to revise the maximum transmit power for the 900MHz frequency band – from 10mW to 200mW – to nurture the IoT industry. Such a move is expected to help operators overcome limitations caused by the low transmit power and to secure the basis for many new IoT services.
With the nationwide deployment of the LPWA networks, SK Telecom should secure a solid IoT infrastructure. LPWAN is designed to support communications among IoT devices. As it can transmit data over tens of kilometres while consuming much less power, many companies across the world are actively developing the LPWA technologies and launching related services.
The LPWAN, once built, is expected to give birth to numerous types of new business models, such as metering, location tracking – finding missing persons and pets, tracking logistics and so on – and monitoring and control services, as it saves battery power and cost for connectivity.
In July 2015, SK Telekom joined the LoRa Alliance to discuss the standardisation of LPWAN as well as measures for the adoption and use of the network.
The LoRa Alliance is an open, non-profit association initiated by industry leaders with a mission to standardise LPWAN being deployed around the world to enable IoT. Alliance members are working together to drive the global success of the LoRa protocol (LoRaWan), by sharing knowledge and experience to guarantee interoperability between operators in one open global standard.
Along with the nationwide LPWAN deployment, SK Telecom will also establish an IoT control centre to manage network equipment and IoT devices. The centre will monitor the real-time status of the nationwide IoT network and all connected devices to optimise the operation. The centre will also operate an IoT security diagnosis process that urges companies to follow the security guidelines from the stage of product planning, and measures the security level of the developed or altered systems and devices and removes security weaknesses.
Moreover, SK Telecom will develop IoT-dedicated modules that can be embedded in the IoT devices. It also plans to open the APIs of these modules to third party companies. To support start-ups and SMEs, the company will provide IoT modules, free of charge, to allow them to test their services, thus lowering the entry barrier for them.
“Through our IoT strategy that encompasses network, platform and devices, SK Telecom will lead the growth of the IoT industry,” said Lee Hyung-hee, president and chief operating officer of SK Telecom. “Our forward-looking efforts will also contribute to the creation of an enriched IoT ecosystem where developers and start-ups and SMEs can easily build diverse IoT services that can bring new and differentiated value for customers.”