SK Telecom, KT an LG U+ aim to launch commercial 5G in 2019

South Korea’s ICT Minister Yoo Young-min had a meeting with the country’s mobile carriers asking them to speed-up the process of deploying 5G networks in the Asian nation. The official met with the heads of the country’s main mobile carriers Friday to push for a joint effort to swiftly set up fifth-generation network technology.

The minister had a meeting with SK Telecom, KT Corp. and LG U+, which had announced plans to start commercial operations of 5G in early 2019 and build nationwide infrastructure by 2020.

Yoo also requested KT’s support for the pilot launch of a super-high speed network service that will be available during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics slated for next month.

“KT will thoroughly prepare for the showcase of 5G technology at the PyeongChang Olympics,” KT CEO Hwang Chang-kyu, said.

South Korean mobile operators are expected to invest more than $9.36 billion in 5G network technology in 2018, according to recent reports.

The local government has also recently announced plans to award 5G spectrum in June this year. The Ministry of Science and ICT said 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum will be auctioned.

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

In November 2017, local operator LG U+ signed a partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei to complete a large-scale 5G network test in a pre-commercial environment in Gangnam District, Seoul. The telco said this network consists of both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz base stations. The test also helped to successfully verify new technologies including IPTV 4K Video and many other future-proof commercial 5G services. High-speed mobility, dual connectivity, and inter-cell handovers were also validated.

The test results returned average data rates of 1 Gbps over the low band and more than 5 Gbps for dual connectivity over high and low bands. A peak data rate of 20 Gbps and an average data rate of more than 5 Gbps were achieved through dual connectivity over 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz. During the test, a 5G tour bus delivered 5G-based IPTV 4K, and a VR drone was demonstrated in the ‘5G for All’ experience room at the LG U+ headquarters, which required data rates ranging from 20 Mbps to 100 Mbps.

In October 2017, SK Telecom carried out a successful demonstration of network communications in a real-world setting. SK Telecom used an in-building relay repeater operating in both 28 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands in the trial network at the company’s Bundang office, in Seoul.

SK Telecom recently announced that it has built out a network in K-City, a pilot city for self-driving, in partnership with the Korea Transportation Safety Authority (KOTSA).

SK Telecom highlighted that this is the first time a next-generation network was deployed in a test site for self-driving cars.

The telco deployed 5G infrastructure, including test network with 20 Gbps download capacity, which allows downloading a 1GB video file in 0.4 seconds, a 5G communications control center that transfers data to a test vehicle in less than 0.001 second, and 3D HD map with high accuracy of less than 20cm.

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