SK Telecom glues together 3 LTE networks, hitting 300 Mbps speeds

SK Telecom is starting the new year with a new kind of 4G network – or at least a network built from the pieces of its older LTE systems. This week, SK turned on a 300 Mbps LTE service that ties together spectrum from three different frequency bands.

The network uses an LTE-Advanced technique called carrier aggregation to bond together 4G channels to create a kind of super-connection. [company]SK Telecom[/company] was one of the first operators to use carrier aggregation technology, bonding two 4G transmissions together back in 2013 to hit 150 Mbps. At the time, it jumped the gun a bit by calling its network LTE-Advanced, when in truth it wasn’t building anything more powerful than most LTE services in Europe.

But by using tri-band carrier aggregation, SKT is now making the leap to speeds that plain old LTE could never reach. It’s combining 20 MHz in the 1800 MHz band with 10 MHz in each of the 2.1 GHz and 800 MHz bands, and coordinating their transmissions so they act like a unified downlink pipe.

As SKT gets access to more spectrum in those bands it can boost speeds and capacities further. The U.K.’s [company]Everything Everywhere[/company] is already testing a network in London with [company]Huawei[/company] and [company]Qualcomm[/company] that hits 410 Mbps, while SK itself has used tri-band tech to hit 450 Mbps in demos. SK said it is already working on combining four and even five frequency bands.

Though SKT claims the new network is now commercial launched, it doesn’t appear to be widely available just yet. The operator said it plans to upgrade 26,000 cell sites in the Seoul metro area and the centers of other South Korean cities in the first quarter. It also plans to offer the new tri-band capabilities in all of the country’s subway lines.

As for devices, per usual the SKT is ahead of the curve. [company]Samsung[/company] has made a version of Galaxy Note 4 that appears to be specifically optimized for the Korean network, and SK said it would offer those oversized handsets to a limited group on customers to help it test and improve the service. The first widely available devices with tri-band aggregation support should be coming out in the next six months, according to Qualcomm.

Push-to-pay: It’s about to get expensive to stay on Nextel

Sprint plans to shutter its old Nextel iDEN systems for good next summer, but before it can do so it needs to migrate millions of customers still using the network. In January, Sprint will start charing a $10 monthly fee to Nextel iDEN customers.

Sprint: Nextel network will go offline in 13 months

Sprint has officially started the countdown for taking its Nextel iDEN network offline: T minus 13 months and 2 days. Sprint plans to turn off the Nextel network’s key push-to-talk Direct Connect capabilities as soon as June 30, 2013, effectively shutting down all iDEN services.

Sprint replacing Nextel network relic with LTE in 2014

For the last year Sprint has been talking up how it would replace its old Nextel iDEN systems with a shiny new LTE network, but until today it hadn’t revealed when. On Thursday, Sprint network engineering president Steve Elfman provided that critical detail, 2014, FierceWireless reported.

When is your Nextel service going kaput? There’s a map for that

It’s no secret that Sprint plans to shut down its iDEN network in 2013, but until recently the details of how it would sunset it were a secret. Over the weekend, new maps appeared on the Sprint website that identify the individual cell sites being decommissioned.