SK, partners trot out global 5G network

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SK, partners trot out global 5G network

Korea’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom has jointly built and demonstrated an intercontinental 5G network, or 5G roaming, with its partners Deutsche Telekom, a German operator, and Ericsson, a Swedish network equipment developer.

The system is set to allow subscribers of either of the two carriers visiting their counterparts’ countries to enjoy the same quality for 5G-based services such as the Internet of Things and connected cars, which require immense data transmission bandwidth, as when they are home.

By around 2020, the next-generation 5G connection, the successor to the current 4G long-term evolution, is expected to become widely available. Then, billions of devices will be connected and networks should provide ultra-fast connections and provide ultra-high capacity, while 4G have been optimized mostly just for smartphones. At the same time, the 5G network will have to deliver low latencies and connect the devices with low power consumption requirements.

The intercontinental 5G network tested on Wednesday will tackle the problems with “federated network slicing” technology. It divides one physical network into multiple “slices” that can be allocated to different services, using a software-based virtual network. That way, efficiency is raised.

SK Telecom and its partners developed the network slicing technology in 2015 but this is the first time they have tested it beyond borders.

“5G is not just a faster network. 5G will provide an extreme user experience anywhere and anytime, even when the user roams across different operators globally,” said Choi Jin-sung, chief technology officer at SK Telecom. “Federated network slicing will enable seamless platform sharing amongst operators at a global scale for continuous and guaranteed user experience.”

Network operators - not only SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom but also Korea’s KT, China Mobile, KDDI and NTT, and vendors including Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei - are all recognizing network slicing as an ideal network architecture for the 5G era. Discussions on 5G network standardization are under way and SK Telecom hopes to propose the outcome of collaboration with Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson as an industry standard.

Mobile operators were set to install and apply different equipment for respective services when building a 5G network before the federated network slicing was developed. The new technology is thus expected to save the telecom service providers money, SK Telecom explained.

This technology will also make it possible for an operator to provide a service globally, ensuring the subscriber won’t need individual agreements with different operators.

The demonstration took place at DT’s corporate R&D center in Bonn, Germany and SK Telecom’s 5G Testbed at the BMW Driving Center in Yeongjong-do, Incheon. It showed a repair worker communicating via augmented reality with support from colleagues in a visited network. The event follows the companies’ announcement at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai in June. SK is poised to show off the cutting-edge technology at Mobile World Congress 2017 this month.

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