South Korea’s largest operator SK Telecom (SKT) and Swedish equipment vendor Ericsson agreed to jointly build facilities to test so-called 5G networks and services.
The two companies signed an MoU in Stockholm and agreed to partner to “build the infrastructure for testing core 5G network technology”. They plan to run joint projects to develop technology to make devices and wireless and wired networks compatible with each other this year and to run test services with customers, the Korea Herald reported.
“SKT will spare no effort to complete the construction of the 5G testbed and to become the first company that commercialises 5G services,” said Park Jin-hyo (pictured, right), head of SKT’s network technology R&D centre.
The country’s leading mobile players — SKT and KT – said they will conduct a series of supposed 5G trials over the next couple of years, with 5G services expected to be partially available during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. 5G services are expected to be deployed nationwide in South Korea by 2020.
Despite Korea’s ambitions, it is not yet known exactly what 5G is, or when it will become an official tech standard. Other Asian operators such as NTT Docomo are eyeing a similar timeframe for launch.
SKT and Ericsson in October demoed 5G network slicing technology at the operator’s R&D centre in Bundang, a satellite city of Seoul. The firms said in a statement they created different virtual network slices and were able to isolate and protect the slices from one another, which claims to solve a major challenge that can arise when multiple virtual networks share one physical network.
The same month SKT opened an integrated 5G innovation centre at its corporate R&D centre on the outskirts of Seoul. SKT is partnering with Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, Intel and Rohde & Schwarz to set up testbeds to develop and test 5G technologies.