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5G in South Korea

In South Korea, 5G mobile communication technologies are mainly promoted by South Korea’s Electronic Communication Academy and some mobile communication manufactur- ers such as Samsung, LG and Ericsson‐LG with the South Korean Future Creation and Science Ministry and the telecom operators as the intermediaries.

On 28 June 2013, the Future Creation and Science Ministry of South Korea (ROK) and the MIIT of China jointly held the China‐ROK 5G Exchange Meeting in Beijing, China, where the ‘China IMT‐2020 (5G) Promotion Group’ and the ‘South Korea 5G Forum’ signed the China‐ROK 5G Memorandum of Understanding. Meanwhile, the CNCERT (China National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team) and KrCERT (Korea Computer Emergency Response Team) signed the China‐ROK Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding on Network Security. The experts from China and Korea discussed how to strengthen the cooperation and jointly promote 5G international standards. Mr Bing Shang, Vice Minister of MIIT, stated that two important consensuses were reached at the meeting: (1) establishing the ministerial strategic dialogue for Sino‐South Korean cooperation in information, communication; (2) promoting cooperation between the Sino‐South Korean research institu- tions and enterprises in future mobile communication technologies, especially 5G standards and new operations. Zonglu Yun, Vice Minister of the Future Creation and Science Ministry of South Korea, stated that mobile communications have developed rapidly in both countries and become an important driving force for their respective economies. China and South Korea should cooperate to jointly promote and lead the development of global mobile communica- tion technologies.

Jointly built by big South Korean companies such as Samsung and LG and its Electronic Communication Academy, the new 5G network architecture consists of three layers: Layer 1 is the server gateway; Layer 2 is the outer cellular; and Layer 3 is the inner cellular. The inner cellular first transmits data to the outer cellular through the backhaul; then, the outer cellular conducts the packet switching with the server gateway through optical fibres. The BSs in the cellular network use narrow‐beam directional antennas for transmit‐receive coverage to reduce co‐channel interference, and the direction of antennas thereof can be intelligently controlled. In May 2013, Samsung announced its mmWave 5G technology. In outdoor experiments near Samsung’s Advanced Communications Lab, in Suwon, South Korea, a prototype transmitter using 64 antenna elements was tested. It could reach a rate of 1.056 Gbps at the carrier fre- quency of 28 GHz, and the transmission range could reach up to 2 km under LOS conditions; for non‐LOS (NLOS) communications, the range shrank to about 200–300 metres. With the 5G network, hundreds of times faster than the 75 Mbps 4G network in South Korea, mobile users will be able to download a movie in less than one second. Committed to the commer- cialisation of this technology in 2020, Samsung plans to carry out the commercial promotion of the 5G network in the coming years.

There are three major operators in South Korea, namely SK Telecom, Korea Telecom (KT) and LG U+ (LG Uplus). SK Telecom is the biggest and the most innovative mobile communication operator in South Korea, mainly distinguished for its drive and perspective on disruptive and advanced networking technologies in addition to its business innovation. Some ICT technicians of SK Telecom point out that to respond to the soaring data needs, a new‐generation network technology – so‐called “Super Sell” – should be constructed which can increase the circulation of benchmark data by 1000x while reducing the expenses by 10x.

On 30 May 2013, the general assembly of the Korea 5G Forum was held in Seoul which was jointly founded by the above‐mentioned three operators and mobile communication man- ufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Ericsson‐LG. Standardisation issues of 5G in 2015 and the prospects of its commercialisation in 2020 were discussed. Zonglu Yun, Vice Minister of the Future Creation and Science Ministry of South Korea, said that 5G technologies were expected to be commercialised in 2020 and South Korea was still at the preparatory stage. Across the globe, new technologies were being developed to respond to the increasingly fast‐ changing ICT climate so as to be a leader in 5G. It was widely believed that 5G could not only bring convenience to life, but also help enterprises and countries with their economic growth. With the imminent 5G, the intelligent machines with 1000x higher efficiency and lower power consumption were expected to be launched. If standardised around the globe in 2015, 5G would have its debut at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.

South Korea’s innovative operator SK Telecom is now linking up with Bell Labs, owned by Alcatel‐Lucent, to focus on new‐generation communications research, including B4G or 5G technology. The information published by SK Telecom and Alcatel‐Lucent identifies several areas of interest in what they call ‘post‐4G or 5G wireless telecommunication technologies

and intelligent network technologies’:

  • defining the architecture of B4G and 5G networks
  • developing methods for enabling increasingly complex networks to manage and configure themselves
  • technologies that can be applied at the core of operator networks within the next two to three years, such as cloud computing.

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