Tesla may choose KT as its partner

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Tesla may choose KT as its partner

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A sled speeds down a track during a test of a Hyperloop One propulsion system on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The linear electric motor was initially envisioned by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. [AP/NEWSIS]

KT is likely to be the local mobile carrier partner of U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla. According to sources in the local automotive and telecommunications industries, Tesla has recently decided to partner with the country’s second-largest mobile carrier, KT, over the nation’s largest, SK Telecom.

A number of telecommunications industry sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that Tesla has been searching for a local partner since the beginning of the year.

One of the key components in Tesla’ electric car is a 17-inch telematics display, which allows drivers to make calls, search maps, shop and play video games via mobile communication services. Like smartphones, the vehicle has a telecommunications chip and SIM card installed that allows wireless Internet connections.

For the displays to work, a telecommunications network connection is required. As a result, Tesla is selecting telecom companies as partners before entering markets. In the United States, Tesla’s partner is AT&T, while in Europe, it has partnerships with Telefonica and TeliaSonera.

Tesla set up Tesla Korea in November last year and started negotiations with KT and SK Telecom.

Currently, KT is providing its telematics service, BlueLink, to Hyundai Motor vehicles, including the Genesis. SK Telecom is a partner with Kia Motors in providing its own telematics service, UVO.

If KT wins the partnership with Tesla, it is expected to accelerate its Internet of Things-based connected car technologies and, in the long run, autonomous vehicle technologies.

KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu stresses that a key in the era of connected cars and autonomous vehicles is the establishment of a 5G mobile telecommunications infrastructure.

The second-largest Korean mobile carrier has been preparing to commercialize its 5G service by 2018, in time for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Gangwon.

KT has also been working on converting landline telephone booths into electric vehicle power stations.


BY PARK SU-RYON [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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