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Will Apple's Next iPhone Adopt LTE+X for the Korean Market?



SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus have finished preparing for communication network to commercialize Multi-Path which is a national standard technology. It is known that these mobile carriers are coming up with a name for Multi-Path service before they release this service. It is predicted that they will name it 'LTE+X' considering it is an improved technology of LTE. The new service will be offered to Samsung Electronics' new flagships, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge users first beginning this week. It will gradually be offered to other smartphones. Will Apple be on-board with a specialized iPhone 6 using the Korean LTE+X (or GiGA LTE) mobile standard? We reported back in January that Apple's iPhone 6 broke a sales record set for foreign smartphones in Korea that shocked Samsung and LG. For Apple to continue its strong sales streak in Korea, they may get on-board this standard early on to retain momentum. Apple could delay support for the new standard until the next iPhone model debut in September.


In order to understand what the Korean LTE+X standard is, the Korean press is out in full force today covering the news on this new development. It's being reported that South Korea's largest telecommunications firm, KT Corp stated today that it would commercialize the world's fastest mobile network, called the "GiGA LTE," which combines the current Long Term Evolution networks with Wi-Fi connections.


The new network service offers a maximum download speed of 1.17 Gbps --15 times faster than the existing LTE and four times faster than the tri-band LTE-Advanced, the fastest wireless network currently available in the Korean market. It also boasts an upload speed 10 times faster than that of the tri-band broadband LTE-A.



The GiGA LTE is expected to help the mobile carrier to gain a competitive edge in the race to bring the 5G network first to the Korean market, accelerating technological advances in the mobile industry.


Oh Sung-mok, head of KT's network division, stated during a press conference today that "The GiGA LTE is a high-end technology that is two or three years ahead of its time. KT will spare no efforts to develop faster and more stable mobile technologies for customers."


2af GiGA

The wireless carrier, which has 200,000 LTE base stations and 140,000 Wi-Fi hotspots installed across the nation, also plans to increase the coverage of the GiGA LTE services down the road to accommodate increasing data traffic.


Mobile data traffic will increase up to 1,000 times by 2020 when the 5G networks are anticipated to be deployed in earnest and futuristic technologies such as 8K video content and UHD hologram services will become commonplace,according to KT.


KT said it had collaborated with smartphone-maker Samsung Electronics for the past nine months to develop the GiGA LTE technology. With firmware updates to be available from Tuesday, users of Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be able to use the faster LTE services, according to a KT official.


"Around five to six more high-end and mid-end Samsung handsets, compatible with the GiGA LTE, will be released in the latter half of this year along with some LG Electronics handsets," the KT official said.


Not to be outdone, South Korea's largest mobile carrier SK Telecom and LG Uplus also announced on the same day they would commercialize mobile network technologies this month that aggregate LTE and Wi-Fi networks to offer faster mobile services. Another Korean report notes that the other companies are likely to call their version of this technology "LTE+X."


KT also noted that it plans to open a 5G Test-bed at its research and development center in Seoul in July, to develop new technology, which will be offered to PyeongChang winter Olympic in 2018. It will provide the technology to Tokyo Olympic in 2020 and Beijing Olympic in 2022, by collaboration of the three countries.


While this new standard on smartphones is likely going to be a hit with Korean consumers starting this week with Samsung's latest smartphones and going into the holiday season, it's unknown if Apple will attempt to make their next generation iPhones compatible with this new technology. They should, but nothing is guaranteed. It'll be interesting to see if Apple makes mention of this during their September iPhone event keynote. So stay tuned.


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