SK Telecom and KT gear up for 5G – ahead of global telecoms

Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform
SK Telecom and KT Corporation – two leading telecom operators in Korea – are gearing up for 5G – ahead of global rivals.

SK Telecom says it will launch 5G service earlier than expected. Many leading telecom operators are gearing up to launch 5G in 2020. SK Telecom, which has a strategy partnership with Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel, did not comment on the specific time frame for 5G in Korea.

Telecom industry association GSMA says there will be more than 50 million 5G connections across the MENA region by 2025, with 5G networks covering approximately 30 per cent of the region’s population.

There will be 214 million 5G connections in Europe by 2025, establishing the region as one of the largest 5G markets in the world. The first commercial 5G networks in Europe are due to be switched on by 2020 and are expected to provide 5G network coverage to almost three-quarters of Europe’s population by 2025.

5G in Korea

SK Telecom has demonstrated essential technologies for 5G network communications in a real-world setting – as part of its strategy to roll out 5G service earlier than expected.

SK Telecom used an in-building 5G relay repeater operating in both 28 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrums in the 5G trial network at the company’s Bundang office. The in-building 5G relay repeater helps in delivering network connections for indoor use by transferring wireless signals to radio shadow areas.

SK Telecom delivered speeds of up to 4 Gbps speed in 28 GHz spectrum band using the in-building relay repeater — jointly developed with HFR. Radio waves are likely to move in straight lines in the 28 GHz band, being blocked more sharply by obstacles with shorter radio coverage.

Delivering better quality indoor service is the key to 5G service, which uses ultra-high frequencies. With the success of delivering gigabit speeds using the in-building relay repeater, SK Telecom is in the process of accelerating development of 5G service that customers can enjoy even in an indoor environment.

The company has also worked with SK Telesys to develop an in-building relay repeater, which can deliver 5G radio signals in 3.5 GHz using the existing mobile communications infrastructure installed inside buildings.

SK Telecom said it can reduce time to build indoor network for 5G service by only installing the 3.5 GHz band relay repeater because the station uses the existing antennas for 2G, 3G and LTE services.

SK Telecom has capabilities for 5G relay for both indoor and outdoor settings. SK Telecom in August deployed a relay repeater in its 5G trial network near Gangnam station in Seoul to expand radio coverage in the densely populated urban area.

SK Telecom conducted 5G service demo in urban area using a tablet-sized device in the collaboration with Samsung Electronics.

SK Telecom demonstrated a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) video call using a tablet-sized device on the 5G network connecting between at SK Telecom’s headquarter in Seoul in partnership with Samsung. SK Telecom trialed 360-degree VR video call for a consumer in real-time while moving in the area surrounded by high-rise buildings.

“The success of 5G wireless communications in the real-world environment will give us momentum to accelerate our effort to roll out 5G service earlier than expected,” said Park Jin-hyo, head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom.

KT Corporation

Meanwhile, Intel announced a collaboration with KT Corporation, a South Korean communications service provider, to develop the world’s largest 5G showcase at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

KT will deliver the first broad-scale 5G network paired with Intel 5G technologies that will enable a series of immersive on-site 5G-powered experiences.

“The upcoming Olympic Winter Games will offer a preview of our 5G future. Our joint activations will give visitors a unique opportunity to experience 5G technologies. They will highlight Intel’s unique 5G strengths across the network, client and cloud,” said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of the Network Platforms Group at Intel Corporation.

There will be 5G experiences made by the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform and Intel 5G network technologies (including FlexRAN technology) that will be activated on the 5G network at a variety of Olympic locations.