Korea officially launches 5G service via Samsung phone

SEOUL — To mark the official launch of the fifth-generation of mobile network, South Korean mobile carriers held various celebrations over the weekend, and vowed to aggressively expand their 5G infrastructure across the country in preparation for launch on smartphones in March, according to the telcos on Sunday. SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho made a video call from the mobile operator’s network control center in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province to a staff manager in the company’s Myeong-dong office in central Seoul, using a pilot 5G smartphone made by Samsung Electronics. “I feel deeply moved by this first video call on a 5G smartphone,” Park said. “It was much clearer than on LTE and the response was quick.”

Calls were subsequently made to Haeundae in Busan, Dunsan-dong in Daejeon and Geumnam-ro in Gwangju, some of the 13 cities and counties that are covered by SKT’s 5G network. SKT’s first 5G client Myunghwa Ind kick-started the 5G-AI machine vision solution that that collects and sends 24 high-definition photos from the production line to a cloud server, where they are judged for defects via artificially intelligent algorithms.The mobile carrier’s self-driving car had test-runs in Hwaseong K-City and ordinary roads in Siheung as it was communicating with SKT’s 5G control center. Despite a fire from its branch in northern district in Seoul and subsequent network blackout last week, KT also celebrated its commercial 5G launch at the 123-floor Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, southern Seoul. The tower’s guide robot Lota is the first client of KT’s 5G service that provides 10 gigabytes of data at 49,500 won ($44.20) per month.“We chose Lota as our first 5G client in order to highlight that 5G doesn’t just mean a replacement of the mobile network,” a company official said. “5G robot Lota will be a platform that innovates our daily lives and industries altogether.” KT said it has deployed 5G infrastructure in Seoul and six other metropolitan cities across the country. The KT network even covers Jeju, Ulleungdo and Dokdo.

The mobile carrier plans to expand the coverage to 24 major cities, including subway and bullet train KTX stations with large floating populations. LG Uplus also held a video call ceremony in Magok, northwestern Seoul, using a laptop that is connected to a 5G router. The third player in the Korean telecom market has established around 4,100 5G base stations – the largest number so far among the three telcos – and plans to set up more than 7,000 stations by the end of December, the company said. LG Uplus is the only carrier that has deployed China’s Huawei 5G equipment. LG’s first 5G client is tractor maker LS Mtron. The company has collaborated with LG Uplus to develop the country’s first 5G-enabled tractor that can be remotely controlled.

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