South Korea pushes forward on 5G, promises global cooperation

Perhaps it's only fitting that South Korea should be grabbing all the headlines out of the 5G Global Summit, a special event for the 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) aimed at sharing information about 5G technology and facilitating international cooperation. After all, the event is staged in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea.

Not only did Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom forge a partnership on 5G, but SK Telecom released a 5G white paper and operators and vendors alike repeated their desires to launch commercial 5G services by 2020, a date many in the industry are targeting.

SK Telecom's white paper notes that although no requirements or technical specifications for 5G have been agreed upon, the global ecosystem widely conceives of 5G as a set of telecom technologies and services that support 1,000 times more data capacity than LTE and 1 Gbps per user through super-dense networking. The document also suggests five broad conditions as key requirements of 5G: ultra-high speed and low latency; massive connectivity; flexible/intelligent network; reliable/secure operation; and energy/cost-efficient infrastructure.

While South Korea boasts its technological prowess, the need for international cooperation around 5G also is being stressed. South Korea vowed to push a multilateral framework involving Asian neighbors and the European Union for research on the technology.

"To prepare for the 5G era, it is essential for the government and private organizations around the world to cooperate in major issues like the development and standardization of necessary technology and the frequency band," said Yoon Jong-rok, vice minister of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, according to Business Korea. He added: "This event, where experts of major countries in the 5G area will share information and cooperate with each other, will serve as an opportunity to build a cooperative system that can bring about a win-win situation."

During an interview with the Yonhap News Agency on the sidelines of the conference, Jan Farjh, vice president of standardization and industry at Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), noted that the European Union as well as Asian nations have contributed money and resources to develop the next-generation mobile technology and it's time to align those efforts to develop specified standards for the 5G network.

"The EU has an ambition to work with Korea, China and Japan," he told the news agency. "The earlier the better. If we align the research level, then we'll be aligned at the organizational level as well."

Just as it worked with earlier iterations of wireless technology like GSM, having a global standard for terminal and infrastructure for 5G will allow network gear manufacturers and software developers to invent new products based on a mobile system usable across the world.

"The common goal is to have a global standard, so we can use the economy of scale. That makes it cheaper for end users," he said.

Earlier this week, SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics announced they had signed an MOU around the development of 5G technology. The companies will cooperate on a shared 5G vision with standardization groups and technology forums in and out of the country, define and select frequency bands suitable for the implementation of 5G technology, and conduct research and development. They will also experiment on enabling technologies, including the next generation small cell, massive MIMO and next-generation modulation/demodulation.

Last month, Japan's NTT DoCoMo published a 5G white paper, noting it has plans to launch 5G on a commercial basis in 2020, when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The paper shares DoCoMo's views on the technical requirements, evolution concept and candidate technologies for 5G radio access.

For more:
- see this Business Korea article
- see this Yonhap News post and this article
- see this press release

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