Nap time: SK Telecom is putting its cellular networks to sleep

Gigaom

As the hour grows late in Korea, SK Telecom acts like any doting parent: it tucks in its mobile network and puts it to bed for the night.

Korea’s biggest mobile operator is working with Swedish networking company Ericsson to build a sleep mode into its 3G and 4G networks that effectively shuts down excess capacity at times when people are talking, texting and surfing the least.

The companies are in the test phase with the new technology, which they’re calling Smart Wake-Up. They’re starting with small cells, those tiny base stations placed in crowded dense areas of the network where demand for voice and data is the highest. At night those small cells go on siesta, but they’re still aware of their surroundings and will switch back on when a device enters their coverage zone. The idea, though, is that the big umbrella macro-network transmitting can handle most…

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