Korean operator upgrades peak throughput in 53 cities to 700 Mbps; preps Gigabit LTE service.

SK Telecom has upgraded its LTE-A Pro network by introducing five-band carrier aggregation (CA) and 4×4 multiple input, multiple out put technology.

The upgrades have been applied to its mobile network in 53 cities, increasing the peak throughput to 700 Mbps. SK Telecom also launched a 900-Mbps LTE-A Pro service in six major cities, namely Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon, and Ulsan.

Customers with a Samsung Galaxy S8 will be able to connect at these speeds, once they have received an over-the-air firmware upgrade. Further compatible smartphones are expected to launch later this year.

SK Telecom said it plans to aggressively expand its LTE-A Pro services, also known as 4.5G, reaching 50% of the population by the end of this year.

"4.5G can be considered as the very last stage of LTE and will facilitate the spread of immersive multimedia services, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D hologram content," said Seung-won Choi, SVP and head of SK Telecom’s infrastructure strategy office, in a statement on Sunday.

In addition, SK Telecom said it plans to upgrade its LTE-A Pro network to 1 Gbps in the first half of 2018.