Carrier heads commit to ‘Korea 5G Day’

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Carrier heads commit to ‘Korea 5G Day’


From left, LG U+ CEO and Vice Chairman Ha Hyun-hwoi, KT CEO Hwang Chang-gyu, Minister of Science and ICT You Young-min and SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho meet in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Tuesday. [MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND ICT]

The top three mobile carriers agreed to commercialize their next-generation 5G networks at the same time next year to avoid excessive competition between local carriers and focus on making Korea the first country to launch the high-speed network.

Minister of Science and ICT You Young-min said SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ agreed to cooperate in launching their 5G networks together on a so-called Korea 5G Day during a meeting with heads of the three carriers held Tuesday in Seoul.

Minister You asked for continuous cooperation between the carriers to ensure that Korea becomes the world’s first country to commercialize the network on that day. The 5G networks are expected to be roughly 20 times faster than the current long term evolution network.

The target deadline is likely to be around March next year as drafted by the presidential committee on the fourth industrial revolution and the Science Ministry last year.

Minister You also emphasized that the carriers will work with local small and midsize companies, such as network equipment developers, while developing 5G-related businesses to ensure that commercializing the network brings economic benefits to the country.

Minister You added that the government’s push toward lowering household phone bills will hold even in the 5G era and asked carriers to come up with wise phone plan options.

During the meeting, KT CEO Hwang Chang-gyu said 5G commercialization calls for big investments as the network will be used to support many business-to-business services, unlike the current 4G network that was used mostly to support services targeting consumers. The 5G networks are expected to be the backbone of future businesses like self-driving cars and Internet of Things technology, where network stability is crucial to guaranteeing safety and security.

“The government should help ease some difficulties faced by the telecommunications industry and support investment in 5G,” Hwang added.

According to the Science Ministry, Hwang asked for tax benefits when setting up 5G network infrastructure to ease the burden on companies and the minister said he will consider the possible options.

SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho said the company is researching what changes 5G could bring to the world and added that he is particularly interested in 5G’s possible impact on the media industry.

LG U+ CEO Ha Hyun-hwoi, on his first full day on the job, showed up for the meeting. Though former CEO Kwon Young-soo was originally scheduled to take part, Ha said he decided to participate considering the importance of 5G business and to listen to the policy directions of the Science Ministry regarding the network.

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