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SK Telecom names Samsung as its partner for its ‘national’ LoRa IoT network

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via Flickr © Jami3.org (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • SK Telecom claims 'first' nationwide IoT network
  • Working with Samsung  
  • Aims to complete deployment this summer

South Korean telco, SK Telecom, has named Samsung as its partner to build its  nationwide LoRa LPWA  network for the Internet of Things covering all of South Korea - it’s being claimed that it will be the world’s first ‘nationwide’ wide area IoT network, unless another telco pops up and beats it to the bragging rights. That seems unlikely now as network preparations are already well under way with Korea’s fourth largest city, Daegu, ready to launch next month (June) and total coverage planned to be complete very soon after that.  Daegu is serving as a bit of a demonstrator network for IoT in general in Korea with connected street lighting, weather collection and much more.

SK Telecom is setting a great deal of store by IoT, with a pledge to invest over $84 million on IoT projects and even module manufacturing over the next few years. The telco is also a long-standing LoRa Alliance member so has been committed to the LoRa technology for some time. Even so, it’s notable that it’s pushing ahead with what appears to be extensive LoRa deployments despite the fact that  ‘standards’ are now being worked on with gusto by 3GPP to develop IoT network technologies to work in licensed spectrum, although these are thought unlikely to be ready for deployment for a few years yet.  

SK Telecom isn’t the only telco prepared to get in early with a ‘non-standard’ (ie non 3GPP)  technology. Orange in France is also committed to LoRa  (see - Orange confirms it will go large with LoRa for IoT)

In fact it may turn out that, rather than this being a zero sum game, where the arrival of licensed spectrum IoT networks shoulders out the pioneer technologies in the ISM bands, there is room for a variety of IoT standards operating in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum but designed to hit different use cases most effectively and economically.

That’s the view at least of Aapo Markkanen, Principal Analyst on IoT radio tech at Machina Research, speaking at a recent panel organised by TelecomTV at Smart IoT LondonOf course it’s early days and even if LoRa only lives in a temporary ‘window of opportunity’ (still an ‘if’)  it will serve the valuable role of kick-starting the IoT market and getting the pioneer players valuable experience and valuable early market share.

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