SK Telecom and Samsung Complete Industry’s First 5G-4G SA Option 4 (NE-DC) Trial in 5G Commercial Network

Korea on February 25, 2022
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Trial successfully combines 5G and 4G on a commercial 5G Standalone network;
SA Option 4 makes it possible to implement 5G SA-specific services while achieving the equal performance as NSA

Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom (SKT) announced they have successfully completed the industry’s first 5G-4G SA Option 4 (NE-DC, New Radio–E-UTRAN Dual Connectivity) trial in SKT’s 5G Standalone (5G SA) commercial network. SA Option 4 is a dual connectivity technology that connects both 5G and 4G radios to a 5G Core in advanced 5G SA mode, enabling operators to increase reliability and maximize their current network resources.


The two companies verified the 5G Option 4 technology at the SKT R&D Center to achieve the equal data speed as the NSA, using 175MHz of bandwidth, and also completed the verification of SA’s specialized functions. For this commercial field trial, SKT used Samsung’s 5G SA Core, 5G radios and 4G radios, which are already deployed across SKT’s 5G commercial networks.


5G Option 4 is a more advanced option than the existing 5G Standalone mode (SA Option 2) and provides the equivalent level of speed and quality as the NSA while utilizing the specialized functions of the SA Option 2 such as network slicing and the evolved 5G Core network.


SA Option 4 helps operators deliver innovative services including Urban Air Mobility (UAM), automated vehicles, remote control for heavy equipment, remote control robots and more. Network slicing creates multiple virtual networks within a single physical network infrastructure, optimizing network resources to meet specific performance needs for various services.


“While we supported the launch of the world’s first commercial 5G services in Korea, we are excited to continue spearheading the advancement of 5G through 5G SA technology, which will power innovative 5G services by leveraging the world-class LTE network that is well established in Korea,” said Jong-Kwan Park, Vice President and Head of 5GX Technology Group at SKT. “We will continue to expand our collaboration with industry leaders to continue driving this advanced technology and in growing this 5G SA ecosystem, to demonstrate new ways to tap the full potential of next-generation networks.”


“Through this commercial trial, Samsung is proud to collaborate with SKT to achieve another milestone in advancing 5G SA technology, demonstrating the equal performance as NSA with 5G Option 4 technology in 5G SA mode,” said June Moon, Executive Vice President and Head of Technology Strategy, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “We look forward to continue collaborating with SKT for the development and commercialization of advanced 5G SA technology, to deliver market-leading services to consumers and diverse use cases across industry.”


While in the early stages of 5G, operators used E-UTRAN New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) technology to combine 5G and 4G networks in 5G NSA mode, and now with 5G SA, they can leverage SA Option 4, which is a more advanced dual connectivity technology.


This latest milestone is a result of Samsung and SKT’s continued commitment to developing cutting-edge network technologies that power innovative 5G use cases. As part of their ongoing collaboration, the companies have successfully completed the EN-DC test in 2019, following the world’s first 5G Next-Generation Core (5G NC) trial in June 2018. In March 2021, SKT began delivering 5G SA commercial services to private networks using Samsung’s advanced 5G end-to-end solutions. In a collaborative effort, the companies will continue delivering advanced network services to mobile users in Korea.


Visit SK Telecom’s booth at MWC Barcelona 2022 for this Option 4 (NE-DC) demonstration and more.


Samsung has pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions including chipsets, radios and core. Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio from fully virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.



About SK Telecom

SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) is Korea’s leading ICT company, driving innovations in fixed & wireless telecommunications, AI service, and digital infrastructure service. Armed with cutting-edge ICT including AI and 5G, the company is ushering in a new level of convergence to deliver unprecedented value to customers. As the global 5G pioneer, SKT is committed to realizing the full potential of 5G through ground-breaking services that can improve people’s lives, transform businesses, and lead to a better society.


SKT boasts unrivaled leadership in the Korean mobile market with over 30 million subscribers, which account for nearly 50 percent of the market.


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