The Korean carrier expects to fully launch 5G commercial services next month

South Korea network operator KT has announced a new 5G offering, ahead of the full launch of the technology next month.

KT says it is supporting the world’s first robot cafe using its 5G mobile network in Seoul. The B;eat cafe — which has been using robots to serve customers — now has a 5G-powered robot barista. The robots at B;eat take mobile orders from customers, brew the coffee and deliver it to a pick-up point, according to published reports. Korea Times reported that after installing a 5G mobile hotspot at the cafe, the robot barista can offer faster service than it could with wired internet service.

“The 5G network in the cafe is used to send the status of the robot and high-quality CCTV to the control tower 24 hours a day,” a KT official told Korea Times. “With the CCTV equipped inside the robot, the robot also recognizes visitors to the coffee shop and sends video footage of the inside of the shop to the manager.”

KT has previously used its 5G network to support a robot; the carrier added an AI-equipped guide robot named Lota to the Lotte World Tower in Seoul last December.

KT also said that it will focus on the development of five key areas in the 5G field: smart cities, smart factories, connected cars, 5G media and the 5G cloud. The Korean carrier also said that it is working with partners in Korea and around the world, such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, Posco, Intel, Ericsson, Nvidia and Qualcomm.

Last month, KT showcased the capabilities of 5G technology through a special bus service in central Seoul. The bus allowed passengers to experience next-generation technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, through KT’s 5G network. The bus was equipped with VR headsets that provided live multi-channels in real-time, with a 360-degree viewing angle.

Users were also able to check out various content without the typical interruptions to streaming or slowdowns in internet speed that can come with access from a moving vehicle, according to KT.

KT deployed the first phase of its 5G network in late November. The new service has been launched in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, in the country’s most populated, major metropolitan cities outside Seoul and in isolated areas including Jeju, Ulleung and Dok islands. The carrier also said it plans to expand its nationwide 5G network to 24 major cities, key transport routes such as expressways, subways, high-speed railways, large universities and neighbourhood shopping areas.

Rival operators SK Telecom and LG Uplus have also recently launched initial 5G services in certain areas of Seoul and other metropolitan areas. SK Telecom recently said that its 5G offering for the corporate segment will be provided as a package with mobile routers and network services.

In June, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 megahertz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 blocks and 24 blocks.


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