SK had previously selected the three vendors as its preferred bidders for 5G gear
South Korea’s largest mobile operator, SK Telecom, announced that it has successfully tested interoperability between a 5G Non Standalone (NSA) core developed by compatriot company Samsung Electronics and 5G base stations made by European vendors Nokia and Ericsson.
SK Telecom had selected the three vendors as its preferred bidders for 5G equipment in September.
The interoperability test took place at the carrier’s 5G testbed located in its Bundang office building.
SK Telecom has been working since last year with partners, including AT&T and Orange at 3GPP and the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance, to develop interfaces for interworking between multi-vendor 5G equipment.
“SK Telecom continues to lead the industry in 5G by successfully achieving multi-vendor equipment interoperability based on 3GPP standard,” said Park Jin-hyo, executive vice president and head of the ICT R&D Center at SK Telecom. “We will continue to make efforts to launch commercial 5G network that offers the highest quality and stability.”
Earlier this month, SK Telecom said it had completed the first call in a test bed using commercial 5G equipment provided by Samsung.
The carrier said the test utilized the 3GPP 5G New Radio NSA specification and commercial 5G NR equipment. That call also took place at the company’s 5G testbed located in its Bundang office building.
SK Telecom and Samsung carried out the test by using 100 megahertz of bandwidth in the 3.5 GHz band.
Samsung will provide SK Telecom with 3GPP Release 15-compliant core and Radio Access Network for 5G New Radio. SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics had previously said they would begin 5G commercial deployments this month, using the 5G NSA architecture. NSA uses a legacy 4G LTE network for mobility control, and transmits gigabit-speed data traffic through both 4G and 5G networks.
Local carriers aim to launch commercial 5G services in March 2019. Earlier this year, the three South Korean mobile operators announced plans to share the costs for the deployment of a nationwide 5G network in the Asian nation. The initiative reportedly will be carried out by SK Telecom, KT, LG Uplus as well as broadband operator SK Broadband. This shared infrastructure projects had the main aim of avoiding redundant investment in 5G deployments, according to government officials.
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.
Participant operators SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus had a 10-block cap per spectrum band. The telcos paid a total of 3.6183 trillion won ($3.3 billion) for the spectrum, 340 billion won higher than the starting price of 3.3 trillion won.
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