Ericsson has signed two new deals for 5G this week with South Korean operators. KT has selected Ericsson for a contract to roll out commercial 5G services nationwide across South Korea beginning in April, and SK Telecom has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ericsson for 5G standalone core networks technology, implementation and operations.
Under the deal with KT, Ericsson will provide its 3GPP standards-based 5G NR hardware and software to cover KT’s 3.5 GHz Non-Standalone (NSA) network. KT plans to leverage 5G tech for services that support smart factories, safety applications, drones and connected vehicle use cases. KT is set to become the first operator to offer enhanced mobile broadband to its subscribers with 5G smartphones.
“With 5G, we aim to help KT to take their customers’ experiences to new levels, whether through enhanced mobile broadband for mobile subscribers, or helping to make national and global IoT and Industry 4.0 opportunities a reality for enterprises and industries,” said Patrick Johansson, head of Ericsson Korea, in a statement.
The MoU with SK Telecom will see the two companies collaborate on using cloud native micro-services to optimize 5G standalone core network technology. SK Telecom said that it has already launched a 5G NSA network, and is now shifting focus toward 5G standalone (SA) networks.
“This joint collaboration with Ericsson on the next generation 5G SA Core and cloud native principles will not only enable us to introduce new services faster while at the same time improve our operational efficiency but also support higher availability through simplified operation,” said Jong-kwan Park, SVP and head of 5GX Labs at SK Telecom, in a statement.
South Korean operators are racing toward the first commercial deployment of 5G services as the first 5G handsets make it to market. KT has held ambitious plans to deploy a nationwide 5G network by early 2019 since 2015. Speaking at Mobile World Congress this year, KT Chairman and CEO Hwang Chang-Gyu—who KT says is often referred to as “Mr. 5G”—touted the operator’s early advantage in 5G.
“Today, I would like to announce that the promise I made four years ago has finally been fulfilled,” he said.
KT and SK telecom are also leading the way in 5G trials for video delivery. In early 2018, KT held the world’s first 5G trials during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics; and earlier this year, KT delivered a live broadcast of K-pop group Wanna One to set-top boxes and mobile devices over the operator’s 5G network. The company also recently announced a deal with TVU Networks and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) to team up on delivering UHD broadcasts over KT’s 5G enterprise network.
SK Telecom held its own 5G broadcast during New Year’s Eve, using its 5G network and “T Live Caster,” a live broadcasting solution that it developed over a four-year period. The video was taken by smartphone cameras installed with the T Live Caster app and connected to 5G mobile routers and transmitted through 5G base stations, and then delivered to cable and IPTV viewers.