Safety agencies to share wireless communication channel by 2017

By Claire Lee
  • Published : May 27, 2014 - 21:19
  • Updated : May 27, 2014 - 21:19
South Korea’s safety-control agencies, including the police, the military, and fire service, will have a single shared wireless communication channel by 2017, policymakers announced Tuesday.

The vision came about a week after President Park Geun-hye publicly vowed to make Korea a safer nation in her apology for the government’s mishandling of the deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol. The network channel project aims to help generate smoother communications among different control towers during times of national disasters.

The idea of establishing a network for safety agencies was introduced in 2003, shortly after an arsonist set fire to a subway train at the Jungangno subway station in Daegu, killing at least 198 people.

However, the network system was never officially launched, as the government kept stalling the project due to costs and difficulty selecting a technology.

The Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning is in charge of selecting the wireless technology to be used for the network by July. The ministry is to verify and approve a total of 37 functions needed for the establishment of the channel, and form a task force to regulate the frequency.

The ministry is however excluding Wi-Bro and TETRA as their options for the network, as they didn’t pass the recent government evaluation. The two lack marketability and have less room for further development, the government said.

One of the technologies that the government is considering for the network is Long Term Evolution, better known as LTE, the high-speed wireless communication used in mobile phones. TETRA is a professional mobile radio system which was specifically designed for use by emergency services and government agencies in 1995.

The total cost of the network will be funded by the Finance Ministry, once the selection of the technology is finalized. In the past, analysts predicted it would cost about 1 trillion won ($980 million) if the government pursued the project with TETRA.

The government plans to establish the network in a total of eight cities and provinces by 2016, and expand it to seven more regions by 2017, including Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Busan.

By Claire Lee (