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Monday, July 04, 2016

South Korea gives away IoT modules as it cuts its monthly data plans by 90%

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

SK Telecom has rolled out a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) across 99% of South Korea to drive applications in the Internet of Things by cutting prices to 10% of the LTE version and giving away 100,000 modules.

The company finished building LoRaWAN across the country by end of June, six months earlier than its initial schedule, covering 99 percent of the population alongside an LTE-M network. 

To promote the growth of the IoT market, SK Telecom plans to offer attractive price plans and develop innovative IoT services, while offering strong support for SMEs. To this end, the company will invest £660m (KRW100bn) by the end of 2017. It expects these efforts to lead to rapid expansion of the IoT industry by connecting over 4 million things to its IoT-dedicated networks by the end of 2017. 

SK Telecom unveiled new price plans for LoRaWAN-based IoT services from just 35cents for Band IoT 35 (KRW 350) to Band IoT 200 priced at KRW 2,000 (approx. US$1.75) - depending on data use.

The Band Lora plans are one tenth of SK Telecom’s LTE-based IoT services and are expected to support active development and provision of diverse IoT services by easing the cost burden of startups and SMEs. The company is also offering diverse discount benefits for enterprise customers depending on their contract period and the number of lines they use.

Table 1: Band LoRa Plans
Price Plan
Data Allowance*
(Frequency of communication)
Monthly Flat Rate
(ex VAT)
Examples of Services
Note
Band IoT 35
100KB
KRW 350
Metering and monitoring services (e.g. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), environmental monitoring, water leakage monitoring, etc.) 
- Discount benefits for long-term contracts: Ranging from a 5% discount for two-year contracts to a 20% discount for 5 year-contracts
- Multi-line discount: Ranging from a 2% discount for those using 500 lines to a 10% discount to those who use 10,000 lines
Band IoT 50
500KB
KRW 500
Band IoT 70
3MB
KRW 700
Tracking services (e.g. locating tracking
For people/things, asset management, etc.)
Band IoT 100
10MB
KRW 1,000
Band IoT 150
50MB
KRW 1,500
Control service
(e.g. safety management, lighting control, shared parking, etc.)
Band IoT 200
100MB
KRW 2,000
*Data usage exceeding the data allotment provided will be charged at KRW 0.005 per 0.5KB.

For instance, a gas meter, which transmits relatively a small amount of data can be used by signing up for Band IoT 35, while a service that requires real-time communication like lighting control service can be used by signing up for Band IoT 200.

LoRa  Roadmap

SK Telecom plans to develop LoRa services in metering, tracking and monitoring.

The company is currently focusing on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which enables the utilities companies to not only accurately measure/monitor usage but also control the metering devices. SK Telecom has been conducting a pilot project on AMI with SK E&S since November 2015, and plans to expand the service coverage to more regions of the country in July 2016. Going forward, the company will launch AMI services for other utilities including water and electricity.

SK Telecom is also developing in tracking services to identify and track the location of vehicles, people/things, and assets. In cooperation with the local governments, the company plans to launch “Safe Watch,” a wearable designed to enhance the safety of children and the elderly in July 2016.

The company will also offer monitoring services capable of controlling and managing manufacturing/public/commercial facilities. For instance, monitoring service for a company that has a large-scale production facility will ensure that the equipment within the facility are operated in an optimal manner and the production environment is kept safe at all times. Environmental monitoring of CO2 concentration, temperature/humidity, as well as hazardous substances – e.g., measuring concentration levels of radon in the atmosphere and soil – can also be provided. 

Furthermore, the company plans to launch a total of 20 LoRa-based IoT services by the end of 2016, including a manhole monitoring service (in September) and a real-time shared parking service (in October).

Partner Hub Program

As part of the stimulation of the eco-system, the company is setting up a ‘Partner Hub Programme’ to create an ‘IoT Open Testbed’ for SMEs and startups at its Bundang building. This will offer a one-stop development environment with the network, device and platform for IoT services so that SMEs and startups will be able to verify their IoT devices, carry out tests to check interworking between their device and the IoT network/platform, and receive technical/service consultation.

SK Telecom also began providing LoRa modules free of charge on July 1, 2016. Aimed at facilitating the development and launch of LoRa services, the company will provide a total of 100,000 units of LoRa modules for free. Also, the low cost of the LoRa module – which is just one-fifth of that of an existing LTE module – will contribute to the development of the wide variety of IoT devices.

“SK Telecom is proud to announce the nationwide deployment of LoRaWAN as it marks the first important step towards realizing connectivity between infinite number of things, going beyond the traditional role of telecommunications centered on connectivity between people,” said Lee Hyung-hee, President of Mobile Network Business at SK Telecom. “Going forward, SK Telecom will develop and offer a wide variety of IoT services designed to offer new value for customers, while working closely with partners including SMEs and startups to vitalize the IoT ecosystem.”

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