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SK Telecom completes nationwide LoRa deployment

Steve Rogerson
July 7, 2016



SK Telecom has completed of the nationwide deployment of a low-power wide area network (LPWAN) based on LoRa technology in South Korea.
 
The company finished building the LoRaWan across the country at the end of June, six months earlier than its initial schedule, covering 99 per cent of the population. By securing both nationwide LTE-M and LoRaWan, SK Telecom said it was now fully ready to create valuable business opportunities in the IoT era. The company completed nationwide LTE-M rollout in March.
 
To promote the growth of the IoT market, SK Telecom plans to offer attractive price plans and develop innovative IoT services, while offering strong support for SMEs. To this end, the company will invest a total of KRW100bn by the end of 2017. It expects these efforts to lead to rapid expansion of the IoT industry by connecting over four million things to its IoT-dedicated networks by the end of 2017.
 
The company unveiled new price plans for LoRaWan-based IoT services. The Band IoT plans come in six different tiers, from Band IoT 35 priced at KRW350 (about US$0.3) to Band IoT 200 priced at KRW2000, depending on data use to allow users – both enterprises and individuals – to choose one that suits the needs of their services.
 
The Band LoRa plans cost one-tenth of SK Telecom’s LTE-based IoT services and thus are expected to support active development and provision of diverse IoT services by easing the cost burden of start-ups and SMEs. The company is also offering diverse discount benefits for enterprise customers depending on their contract period and the number of lines they use.
 
For instance, a gas meter, which transmits a relatively small amount of data, can be used by signing up for Band IoT 35, while a service that requires real-time communications such as a lighting control service can be used by signing up for Band IoT 200.
 
SK Telecom plans to develop services in the areas of metering, tracking and monitoring.
 
In metering, the company is focusing on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), which enables the utilities to measure and monitor usage accurately and control the metering devices. The telco has been conducting a pilot project on AMI with SK E&S since November 2015, and plans to expand the service coverage to more regions of the country this month. Going forward, the company will launch AMI services for other utilities including water and electricity.
 
SK Telecom is also developing tracking services to identify and track the location of vehicles, people, things and assets. In cooperation with the local governments, the company plans this month to launch Safe Watch, a wearable designed to enhance the safety of children and the elderly.
 
Moreover, SK Telecom will offer monitoring services capable of controlling and managing manufacturing, public and commercial facilities. For instance, the monitoring service for a company that has a large-scale production facility will ensure that the equipment within the facility is operated in an optimal manner and the production environment is kept safe at all times. Environmental monitoring of CO2 concentration, temperature and humidity, as well as hazardous substances – for example, measuring concentration levels of radon in the atmosphere and soil – can also be provided. In August 2016, SK Telecom will start an environmental monitoring service at Changjo (Creative) Village in Sejong.
 
Furthermore, the company plans to launch 20 LoRa-based IoT services by the end of 2016, including a manhole monitoring service in September and a real-time shared parking service in October.
 
Besides developing and launching IoT services of its own, SK Telecom will be making multifaceted efforts to vitalise the IoT ecosystem by encouraging the participation of developers, SMEs and start-ups. To this end, the company plans to set up a partner hub programme to nurture partners. Through the programme, it will share its expertise and knowhow, provide training, and conduct joint development and marketing.
 
To support the development of IoT services and devices, the operator will create a space called IoT Open Testbed for SMEs and start-ups at its Bundang Building to offer a one-stop development environment, which encompasses network, device and platform for IoT services. SMEs and start-ups will be able to verify their IoT devices, carry out tests to check interworking between their device and the IoT network or platform, and receive technical and service consultation.
 
SK Telecom also began providing LoRa modules free of charge this month. Aimed at facilitating the development and launch of LoRa services, the company will provide a total of 100,000 units of LoRa modules for free. Also, the low cost of the LoRa module – which is just one-fifth of that of an existing LTE module – will contribute to the development of the wide variety of IoT devices.
 
“SK Telecom is proud to announce the nationwide deployment of LoRaWan as it marks the first important step towards realising connectivity between infinite number of things, going beyond the traditional role of telecommunications centred on connectivity between people,” said Lee Hyung-hee, president of the mobile network business at SK Telecom. “Going forward, SK Telecom will develop and offer a wide variety of IoT services designed to offer new value for customers, while working closely with partners including SMEs and start-ups to vitalise the IoT ecosystem.”