SK Heralds 100Mbit/s Het Net

9:35 AM -- If you thought it was difficult keeping up with all the technologies being tipped to revolutionize the radio access network (RAN), this Heterogeneous Network (Het Net) news from SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) adds a whole new dimension to the developments.

The South Korean operator has developed technology that blends 3G, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Wi-Fi access networks so that they can be used at the same time to create a mobile data service with speeds up to 100 Mbit/s. SK says the technology -- dubbed Heterogeneous Network Integration Solution -- integrates 3G and Wi-Fi or LTE and Wi-Fi and allows the simultaneous use of these different technologies in different frequencies. (See SK Telecom Integrates Wireless Techs.)

But this is more than just a lab experiment: The operator plans to put the technology into action on its own network this year. In the second quarter, SK says it will apply this technique to enable the use of 3G and Wi-Fi together with theoretical speeds up to 60 Mbit/s. In 2013, it plans to integrate LTE and Wi-Fi for a 100Mbit/s service.

The operator also plans introduce a smartphone this year that supports this approach.

This pioneering effort from SK is no surprise to Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, who explained that the operator is already advanced with integrating Wi-Fi into the cellular architecture and putting it together for an end-user service. Brown noted, for example, that SK uses SIM authentication for its Wi-Fi service.

But this new Het Net technology does raise some questions: Why has SK Telecom developed this technology itself and not with its equipment suppliers? Are the operator's equipment suppliers off the pace when it comes to Het Net developments? Is there no vendor out there that has a technology like this?

SK will have its Het Net Integration Solution on show at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month -- it's already on my list of things to see at the show.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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