South Korean operator KT has commercially launched an ultra-high-speed mobile network called GiGA-LTE, which claims to offers gigabyte speeds to its customers, according to a local news report. KT says its GiGA-LTE service, which uses LTE and Wi-Fi networks at the same time, “can achieve a peak speed of 1.17 Gbps, which is 15 times faster than existing LTE and 4 times faster than the tri-band carrier aggregation.” The new service will initially be available on Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge devices and will gradually be expanded to other smartphone models. Customers can upgrade their mobile network to the GiGA-LTE via free firmware. KT’s GiGA-LTE network leverages 200,000 LTE base stations and 300,000 Wi-Fi zones across the country. The operator plans to expand the service coverage until the end of 2015.
In the international mobile network speed race, KT appears to have vaulted ahead with this gigabyte service. Users in South Korea, already one of the most advanced mobile environments in the world—if not the most advanced—are more likely that most to be willing to pay for such ultrafast connectivity, which arguably is not necessary even for the latest data-hogging apps and entertainment services. Regardless of utility, reaching gigabyte speeds is undoubtedly a marketing victory for KT, and it also appears to be a noteworthy technological achievement, not only because of its speed but also because of the fact that it works via LTE and Wi-Fi combined. We have been writing recently about incursions of Wi-Fi into the domain of cellular; here is another example, a further indication that there is less and less of a distinction between the two forms of mobile service.