It has been pointed out that if the frequency resources for mobile WiMax are redirected to LTE-TDD, the economic effect will increase about 20-fold for six years to come. An increasing number of industry experts and scholars are agreeing to the conversion with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning mulling over its WiBro exit strategy.
Jung In-joon, professor at the Department of Business Administration of Daegu University, published his report on the current status of LTE-TDD and frequency management directions in June in the journal of the Korea Association for Telecommunications Policies. In the report, he claimed that the service sales that could be anticipated until 2019 would reach 18.968 trillion won (US$16.995 billion) if the conversion is made right away. “If the 57MHz frequency band that is allocated for mobile WiMax is used for LTE-TDD, the service sales are expected to be increased by at least 400% and up to 2,000% during the same period,” he wrote.
At the same time, telecom service providers and device manufacturers are saying that Korea must adopt LTE-TDD to continue its leadership in the global LTE market. In fact, many telecom operators employ the 2.3GHz band for LTE-TDD, but Korea is not doing so, missing out on potential business opportunities.
The number of WiBro subscribers is around one million in Korea as of the end of last year, but that of LTE subscribers has already surpassed the 20 million mark. KT and SK Telecom are using 57MHz in the 2.3GHz band for WiBro. However, it is regarded by many consumers as a supplement to Wi-Fi, causing the resources to be wasted and the policy efficiency to be lowered. In contrast, the number of prospective LTE-TDD subscribers around the world is estimated to be 1.6 billion.
The LTE-TDD device market is growing at a rapid pace, too. LG Electronics began to supply the Optimus G supporting LTE-TDD to the Saudi Arabian market in May this year and is going to supply the same handset to China Mobile soon. Samsung Electronics has supplied the LTE-TDD version of the Galaxy Note 2 to China Mobile since June.
“The conversion to LTE-TDD will be relatively smooth, because local service providers are already running their own LTE-FDD networks, and KT and SK Telecom have mobile WiMax networks in addition to them,” said an expert. He stressed, “The government needs to seek measures to make better use of LTE-TDD allowing for the utilization of the frequency resources and their industrial effects.”
A device manufacturer echoed the sentiment by saying, “The government’s swift decision-making is a must in terms of not just economic effects but also global market leadership,” continuing, “We will be able to catch up with other countries if the government immediately brings in the new technology to help us realize the economy of scale.”