Korean carriers, government create task force to boost 5G in rural regions

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South Korea’s three mobile operators and the government launched a task force with the main aim of helping expand 5G coverage into rural areas of the country, local news agency Yonhap reported.

The task force has the main goal of allowing roaming network sharing among SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus  in areas where population density is low, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

Under the terms of this collaboration agreement, each mobile carrier will set up communication networks in designated areas, which can be shared with the other two, after they reach an agreement on the issue within the nexst next six months.

The ministry said the collaboration between SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will mark the first time that these carrier will work together on a national level to share network roaming infrastructure.

South Korea’s 5G subscribers reached 7.86 million in July, up 487,190 from the previous month, accounting for 11.3% of the country’s 69.8 million mobile subscriptions.

The three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities. The government previously said that the carriers had already deployed over 115,000 5G base stations.

In March, the Korean government said that the country’s three major telecom carriers had agreed to invest KRW 4 trillion ($3.4 billion) in their 5G networks during the first half of this year.  Operators will heavily invest to install additional 5G equipment with the aim of expanding the coverage of current 5G networks across the country.

Korea’s main telecom operators expect to commercialize an ultrafast mmWave 5G network this year, according to previous reports.

The mmWave 5G service will be initially available for the business-to-business segment. Operators have not yet finalized investment plans for the business-to-consumer sector, as the cost of building additional infrastructure still represents a major issue, according to the reports.

Due to the high level of capital expenditures needed, the launch of the mmWave 5G network for personal smart devices is likely to start next year or in 2022.

Local operators are planning to introduce the new 5G technology while expanding the existing 5G infrastructure in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band.

In June 2018, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 megahertz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 blocks and 24 blocks.

The 3.5 GHz band licenses cover a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.

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