Korean Telco SK Telecom has become the latest telco to announce plans for a nationwide low-powered wide area network based on the LoRaWAN technology.
However its press release announcing the move is somewhat ambiguous. It says only that SKT is “building a nationwide Low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) within this year,” and that “In July 2015, SK Telecom joined the LoRa Alliance to discuss the standardisation of the LPWA network as well as measures for the adoption and utilisation of the network.” Nowhere does it state specifically that the network will use LoRaWAN. SK Telecom has since confirmed to IoTAustralia that the network is LoRaWAN.
SK Telecom says it will invest a total of KRW100 billion ($A112m) by 2017 to boost its IoT business. In addition to the nationwide LPWAN network, it plans to develop IoT-dedicated modules and to upgrade its IoT platform, ThingPlug, “to gain leadership in the IoT market and achieve win-win results with startups and SMEs.”
SK Telecom has also trialled LTE for IoT with Ericsson and with Nokia. In November 2015 it demonstrated LTE for IoT with Nokia.
SK Telecom said its plans were in step with the Korean Government’s “aggressive move towards promoting new industries including the IoT industry.” The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has 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,” SKT said.
SK Telecom will also establish and IoT Control Centre to manage network equipment and IoT devices. It will monitor the real-time status of the nationwide IoT network and all connected devices to optimise the operation and will also operate and ‘IoT Security Diagnosis Process’ that will encourage users to follow the security guidelines for the planning and operation of their IoT networks.
SK Telecom also plans to develop IoT modules that can be embedded in IoT devices and offer open APIs to these modules. It says it will provide the modules free of charge to startups and SMEs “to allow them to test their services, thus lowering the entry barrier for them.”
French mobile operator, Orange, announced last September that it would roll out a nationwide LoRaWAN network. Telstra installed a small scale LoRaWAN network in Melbourne for its IoT Challenge last November, and told IoT Australia at the time that it had no plans for a large scale rollout.
However in his report Home Tweet Home: Implications of the Connected Home, Human and Habitat on Australian Consumers, ACCAN intern Alex Vulkanovski wrote of “Telstra’s investment in long range wide area networks.” When IoT Australia queried him about this he said that Telstra executives he had interviewed for the report had indicated that Telstra had plans to this effect. Shortly afterwards, ACCAN released an amended version of the report, ostensibly for other reasons, but with this reference removed.