The Korean telco will initially deploy 2,000 5G sensors developed by Samsung Electronics

South Korea’s largest carrier, SK Telecom, was awarded a contract to deploy 5G infrastructure to support a smart traffic system in Seoul, local press reported.

Seoul’s cooperative-intelligent transport system (C-ITS) project has a total budget of KRW25.4 billion ($22.6 million) and is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The project aims to make Seoul’s roads safer using advanced vehicle communication technology.

Under the project, SK Telecom will deploy sensors and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) facilities on major roads across the city.

SK Telecom will supply 2,000 5G devices for buses, taxis and traffic signal controllers so they can connect with the 5G network. The telco said the devices will be co-developed with compatriot company Samsung Electronics.

The smart traffic system, which aims to cover 121 km along a number of the city’s expressways, will enable buses and taxis to communicate with bus stops and traffic lights, among other features. The system will also allow the Seoul Metropolitan Government to analyze the data in real time.SK Telecom said there are approximately 30 safety services the 5G-based transportation system can offer.

SK Telecom highlighted that traffic information can also be shared with non-5G vehicles, with the main aim of reducing  traffic accidents.

Seoul and SK Telecom are also working to jointly establish an autonomous driving testbed in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, by the first half of this year. As part of this testbed, an SK Telecom autonomous vehicle traveling between major buildings is expected to be operational beginning in June.

“The Cooperative-Intelligent Transport System project is a futuristic business that combines state-of-the-art digital technologies, like 5G, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud,” said Ryu Young-sang, an executive vice president of SK Telecom. “We hope to offer a range of traffic safety data to Seoul citizens using 5G and reduce traffic accidents.”

The country’s three mobile carriers launched initial 5G services in Korea in December. SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT initially launched the 5G service in limited areas in Seoul and other major cities. At the time of the launch, the telcos said that  5G offering will initially focus on enterprise users, as there are not yet smartphones available which support 5G.

Korean operators have claimed they were actually the first ones to launch the next-generation network service using hardware approved by the 3GPP.

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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