Ericsson has been chosen by KT, formerly known as Korea Telecom, for a commercial contract to enable the nationwide launch of commercial 5G services in Korea.
Korean operators are targeting a launch date for 5G services as early as April of 2019 in order to accommodate new 5G smartphones that will be ready to come on the market. This year, the first 5G smartphones are expected to be launched from nearly all the major vendors including Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, Oppo, ZTE and many more.
Considered next-generation cellular technology, 5G is billed as providing faster speeds, lower latency and providing new use cases for wireless connectivity.
Under the contract, Ericsson will provide 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software from its 5G platform to cover KT’s 3.5 GHz non-standalone network.
Ericsson said Korean consumers are known as early adopters of new technology and require a large amount of data and bandwidth. Because of the 5G launch in April, Korean customers will be among the first globally to use 5G mobile broadband-enabled by 5G.
In addition to cellular connectivity for smartphones, the launch of 5G services will cover use cases including smart factories, safety, drones, connected vehicles, the internet of things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 opportunities for the Korean market, Ericsson said.
Globally, governments, telecom, device vendors and software suppliers are all gearing up to transition to 5G technology with numerous companies announcing plans to deploy services in various cities. Vodafone recently said it would begin 5G services in 19 cities in the U.K. while AT&T plans to deploy in 12 cities in the U.S. initially with other U.S. telecoms T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint planning to deploy to 30 or so cities at the beginning of the launch.
Meanwhile, a number of new use cases are already being explored for 5G even before any service has been launched, including how outdoor robots will benefit from the technology, the role smart lighting will provide in garnering greater coverage, and how the technology could be used to enable connectivity for self-driving cars, enabling drones to fly farther than before.
Jason Leigh, senior research analyst for mobility at IDC, believes new use cases for 5G will appear eventually but in 2019 it will be regulated to where and when the coverage will be available.
Leigh sees autonomous vehicles as a potential use for 5G where it will allow the vehicles to not just talk together but to stream infotainment to passengers while in route to a destination. However, these features will probably first be developed without 5G, and then enhanced by 5G performance in a smart city scenario, he said.
Other use cases include buffering the performance of enterprise technology by using the promised low latency of 5G; factory automation where 5G will work with artificial intelligence that delivers high bandwidth and low latency by connecting multiple devices together; and packaging new forms of broadband connection to enhance all-home wireless.