KT, formerly Korean Telecom, has announced today it is working in conjunction with Qualcomm and Samsung to bring the world's first 600 Mbps LTE network technology to the market. This technology is known as LTE-H, LTE-WiFi Link Aggregation or HetNet, which as the name might suggest combines a LTE connection with WiFi network. The device will use a 150 Mbps Category 4 LTE connection with a 450 Mbps WiFi connection. The technology is due to be shown off at the Mobile World Congress, or MWC, next week. Comparing LTE-H with Samsung's existing LTE "download booster" technology, which was introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S4, is that LTE-H allows much finer, more precise low-level control of WiFi from the modem side of things rather than the operating system software. WiFi stations cooperate with LTE-H devices to monitor the signal strength and to guarantee seamless connectivity. LTE-H includes adaptive control of the networks.
KT is planning to operate the LTE-H service as a trial across South Korea and as part of this, is rolling out gigabit WiFi access points across the country by the first half of 2016. The trial will be used to judge demand and viability by both itself and the two partners, before potentially rolling out the technology elsewhere in the world. The technology could be used as a convergence between what we currently know as a 4G network and the planned 5G networks; in other words, it could bridge the gap between current and next generation wireless networking technology.
It's not yet clear what Samsung handset(s) KT will be using as part of the trial nor how widespread it will be. We don't know what Qualcomm chipset will be used, either, but as soon as we find out we'll let you know.
On a related story, KT is also planning to demonstrate its use of LTE-U (unlicensed spectrum) at the 5 GHz frequency band, usually used by 802.11 WiFi technology, in aggregation with existing licensed LTE spectrum. The advantage of pairing up licensed and unlicensed spectrum is that it can easily and quickly boost capacity in areas of high demand by using short range access points. Unlicensed spectrum utilization can be relatively easily enabled or disabled and moved, for example it may be used at major sporting events to boost network capacity.