SK Telecom teasing a 5G-PON deal announcement next week

South Korean telecommunications firm SK Telecom announced plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nokia and Cisco aimed at expanding 5G-Passive Optical Network (5G-PON) technology globally.

The operator said the new agreement will be signed during the MWC 2018, which kicks off next week in Barcelona, Spain.

5G-PON, one of 5G network’s core technologies, is a next-generation technology for distribution networks that connects radio unit (RU) such as antennas and heavy machinery installed at the premises with a baseband unit (BBU).

SK Telecom highlighted that 5G-PON technology can improve the quality of mobile communications in remote rural areas. This technology can be operated without a power switch, allowing it to be more conveniently deployed outdoors, the Asian telco said.

“SK Telecom is focused on securing innovative network technology to provide our customers with the safest and most stable 5G communications,” said Kang Jong-ryeol, executive vice president of ICT Infra Center, at SK Telecom.

SK Telecom also announced that it will showcase a number of 5G technologies at the 2018 MWC. The company will display various 5G-related technologies such as a real-time streaming technology of 5G NSA (non-standalone) standard defined by 3GPP, and a 5G-LTE interworking technology that transmits data ceaselessly by crossing between two frequency bands — LTE frequency band of 2.6GHz and 5G frequency band of 3.5GHz·28GHz.

The company’s 5G self-driving car will also be presented during the telecommunications event in Barcelona. During a recent test run on the the Gyeongbu Expressway, the most heavily travelled expressway in Korea,SK Telecom’s self-driving car traveled approximately 26 kilometers at a speed of up to 80 kilometers per hour (50km/h on average). The telco explained that the car’s software has been designed to not exceed that speed in accordance to the government regulation on test-driving of autonomous vehicles.

In July 2017, SK Telecom had received a license from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for testing its autonomous driving car on local roads. SK Telecom’s Vehicle Tech Lab has been working closely with diverse partners, including a team from the Seoul National University and LG Electronics, to develop self-driving technologies such as artificial intelligence computer, sensors, communication and route determination/tracing.

Last month, the company announced the establishment of a 200-member task force in order to speed up the process to launch commercial 5G services in the Asian country. The operator highlighted that the development of business models for 5G was among the goals of the task force.

SK Telecom and rival operators KT Corp. and LG U+ aim to start commercial operations of 5G in early 2019 and build nationwide infrastructure by 2020.

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 expects 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.

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