Apple allegedly in talks to launch iPhone 5S with LTE Advanced in South Korea

Cell tower (Flickr user forklift)

T-Mobile USA may be planning to leapfrog its rivals by becoming the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer up to three times faster LTE Advanced cellular radio technology, but over in South Korea the SK Telecom carrier already announced last Wednesday it’s become the world’s first telco to launch LTE Advanced network.

As you could imagine, Samsung Electronics CEO J.K. Shin wasted no time confirming his company will launch an LTE Advanced version of its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip. And now, SK Telecom is understood to be in talks with Tim Cook & Co. over offering an LTE Advanced variant of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5S handset…

The Korea Times writes that SK Telecom and Apple are expected to unveil an LTE Advanced iPhone variant “in the coming months”.

An anonymous executive for the carrier told the newspaper:

SK Telecom is approaching Apple to put our LTE-A technology on the upcoming iPhone 5S.

We are in the middle of negotiations.

“There’s no reason for Apple not to use the LTE-A technology,” said one SK executive.

On the other hand, the guy speculates Apple could use Qualcomm technology to give the next iPhone LTE Advanced capabilities and that’s highly unlikely knowing Apple prefers its in-house designed processors.

Be that as it may, with the iPhone 5 Apple ticked all the right boxes in terms of available cellular radio technologies. The handset combines two different radio channels into one and supports most popular flavors of 3G all the way up to DC-HSPA, along with major LTE revisions.

iPhone 5 promo (LTE chip 001)

Apple apparently intends to use Korea as “the litmus test to gauge the marketability of LTE Advanced technology before making inroads into China,” according to industry sources.

LTE Advanced promises download speeds of up to 150Mbps, or 2-3 faster than what’s theoretically possible with the current implementation of the fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) radio technology.

The technology enables downloads over multiple radio channels at the same time, thus aggregating downloads. Samsung claims that a movie which takes three minutes to download with conventional 4G would take slightly more than a minute over LTE Advanced networks.

In addition to T-Mobile USA, carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have all announced plans to deploy LTE Advanced wireless networks at some point in the future.