SK Telecom and IT&E to deploy “5G” FWA network in Guam and Saipan

South Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom (SKT) is in discussions with Citadel Holdings (venture capital and private equity firm) and IT&E (Pacific Island telecom carrier) to deploy a 5G network in Guam and Saipan  [Guam and Saipan – part of the Marianas are separate commonwealths of the U.S.] .

At a meeting held in IT&E’s headquarters located in Guam,  SKT and IT&E said they would work together to commercialize the 5G network with a fixed wireless access (FWA) offering in Guam and Saipan in the second half of 2019.   “With SK Telecom contributing its engineering expertise as a global leader in the roll out of 5G technology, IT&E’s 5G network will set the standard for communications in Guam and the Marianas for many years to come,” said Jose Ricardo “Ricky” Delgado, president and CEO of Citadel Holdings,

In September 2018, IT&E announced a strategic partnership with SK Telecom to draw from SK Telecom’s knowledge gained from 5G network deployments.

James Oehlerking, chief executive officer for IT&E, announces on Sept. 17, 2018, South Korean giant SK Telecom's $33 million investments in IT&E on Guam and CNMI.

James Oehlerking, chief executive officer for IT&E, announced on Sept. 17, 2018, South Korean giant SK Telecom’s $33 million investments in IT&E on Guam and CNMI. (Photo: Haidee Eugenio/PDN)

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SKT said IT&E has secured 1150 MHz bandwidth in the 28-GHz frequency band for 5G communications and aims to become the first operator to launch commercial service in the region.   SK Telecom and IT&E have decided to develop specific areas for cooperation including 5G. At present, they are primarily focusing on mobile edge computing (MEC). By rolling out 5G networks applied with MEC in main areas of Guam and Saipan, they can dramatically enhance customer experience and lay the groundwork for services that require ultra-high speed data processing.

The 5G FWA network will initially cover dense central areas of cities, local business customers, and areas that lacked fixed broadband infrastructure. This will be expanded gradually to wider areas.  There was no mention of what technology would be used for this FWA, which is not a use case for the IMT 2020 5G standard being developed by ITU-R WP 5D.

According to SKT, the decision to deploy 5G FWA initially came as a result of an analysis of the region’s fixed broadband infrastructure, topographic features and the needs of residential and enterprise customers. FWA provides IT&E with a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to offer broadband services in areas with limited access to fixed broadband infrastructure.  As part of the collaboration, SKT will help IT&E design a 5G network optimized for the local environment, support network deployment and perform field trials and network optimization.

SKT said it had discussed cooperation with IT&E in other areas, such as deploying SK Telecom’s security solutions to IT&E’s 5G network, and adopting mobile edge computing and quantum cryptography technologies which has been utilized in Deutsche Telekom’s trial network in July 2018, IT&E will be able to provide its subscribers with the safest (safer) 5G service.

Park Jung-ho, CEO and President, SK Telecom:
SK Telecom will work closely with IT&E to deploy safe and stable 5G network in Guam and Saipan. Going forward, SK Telecom will continue to cooperate with diverse players throughout the globe to accelerate 5G-powered innovations.

Jim Oehlerking, CEO of IT&E:
5G is transformational technology, and when supported by SK Telecom’s engineering team and our typhoon-proven network, our subscribers will enjoy a smooth transition to the next generation of mobile connectivity.

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