SK Telecom and partners looking to extend the range of 5G wireless links

Korean telco SK Telecom announced that it has developed new relay technologies for 5G networks after its six-month-long collaboration with local partners.  The telco said this collaboration is a big step towardsthe creation of a 5G ecosystem in Korea.

The partners, including High Gain Antenna and SK Telecom subsidiary SK Telesys, have been involved in the development of new relay technologies, which will enable network operators to guarantee the stability of communications services even in the ultra-high frequency bands of 5G networks, and successfully applied it to the trial network, the Asian telco said.

“In 5G networks, relay technology will help extend radio range by amplifying wireless signals between base stations and devices. It will enable network operators to cover radio shadow areas and offer wide coverage for 5G services,” SK Telecom said in a release.

“In the 28 GHz band, a candidate for 5G, radio waves are more likely to move in straight lines and more unlikely to circumvent obstacles due to the nature of ultra-high frequencies. Therefore, relay technology is critical to the seamless delivery of 5G services.”

The new 5G relay technologies jointly developed by SK Telecom and local partners can be classified into three techniques: the flat framing, in which radio waves are reflected at right angles towards both sides; the convex mirroring, in which radio waves are reflected outwards as if they hit a convex mirror; and the multi-beam generation and amplification, in which a multiple number of radio waves are aggregated and amplified.

SK Telecom said it chose to apply the multi-beam generation and amplification technique to its 5G trial network in Gangnam, Seoul to achieve three times wider coverage than that of a single beam. While the existing single beam relay repeater covers 70 meters in diagram, SK Telekom is now able to extend the coverage to 200 meters in diagram with a new relay repeater implementing this technique.

The operator also said it has already proven wider coverage in its 5G trial networks in Gangnam and Bundang, Korea by applying a new relay repeater which can cover both indoor and outdoor environments.

Among the partners engaged in the collaboration, High Gain Antenna developed technologies to implement the flat framing and convex mirroring techniques, while SK Telesys successfully realized the concept of multi-beam generation amplification. SK Telecom has worked with the two vendors for the past six months and demonstrated these techniques in its 5G trial networks in the company’s Bundang office and two dense urban areas in Seoul.

South Korea aims to complete the deployment of a commercial 5G mobile network in the second half of 2019, Heo Won-seok, director of ICT and Broadcasting Technology Policy at South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, said earlier this year in a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

The official said that the Korean government estimates that 5G will have a penetration rate of nearly 5% in Korea in 2020, the year in which 5G is expected to be launch in several markets worldwide. The official also said that 5G subscribers will represent 30% of total mobile subscribers in South Korea in 2021, 50% in 2020 and 90% in 2026.

In order to pave the way for the commercial launch of 5G by local operators, the government has plans to allocate spectrum in two years, the officials said. Heo also said that the commercial launch in South Korea will be the world’s first commercial 5G offering.

Operators aim to launch a 5G trial service for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will take place in the city of PyeongChang.

South Korea’s second largest mobile operator KT was expecting to complete the construction of a trial 5G network in certain areas of the country by September 2017, ahead of plans for a pilot service of this during the Winter Games. The operator plans to test the network for four to five months before it launches a trial 5G service in early February 2018.

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