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Industrial, Enterprise Users Tapping Korea’s New 5G Network

Following 5G activation, network supporting manufacturing, autonomous vehicle testing: Although consumers in Korea won’t have  a 5G-compatible handset until Samsung releases one in the first-half of 2019, the recent 5G network activation is being tapped by industrial and enterprise-type users who are exploring a range of use cases.

After following a shared infrastructure model to build out the next-generation network,, Korea’s three carriers–SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus–turned on the network Dec. 1 in parts of Seoul and other major cities.

SK Telecom’s launch customer is Myunghwa Industry, an auto parts manufacturer, which is tapping the network for what it calls “5G-AI Machine Vision.” Ultra high resolution cameras take pictures of parts moving down a production line; the images are feed into a cloud platform where artificial intelligence software conducts quality assurance.

Elsewhere in the automotive value chain, the 5G network will support autonomous vehicle testing at K-City, a purpose-built 320,000 square meter mock urban area in Hwaseong that features five testing environments–highway, downtown road, suburban street, parking lot and community facilities.

SK Telecom’s CEO Park Jung-ho said, “While making efforts to provide the most stable and secure 5G network, SK Telecom will also focus on expanding the 5G-AI convergence ecosystem and generating social values.”

KT’s launch application is network support for Lota, an AI-equipped robot that will guide visitors through the Seoul Sky Observatory. KT’s network is available in greater Seoul, Jeju, Ulleung and Dok islands.

KT said it plans to expand its nationwide 5G network to 24 major cities, key transport routes such as expressways, subways, high-speed railways, large universities and neighborhood shopping areas. The first customer service available on KT’s 5G network is 10 gigabytes of data for a mobile hotspot terminal at a monthly rate of 49,500 won ($44).

Korea’s three operators will be able to claim a world first in terms of first-to-market with standards-based 5G. Verizon launched a service in the U.S. in October, but that is based on the carrier’s Verizon Technical Forum specification, which will be upgraded to 5G NR. AT&T will activate its standards-based network in parts of 12 markets on Dec. 21. – RCR Wireless

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