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KT to connect every nook and corner of Korea

Telecom firm launches broadband network on remote northwestern island

BAENGNYEONGDO ISLAND, Incheon ― During the first test call on broadband Long Term Evolution-A networks between the Antarctic Jang Bogo Station and South Korea’s remote northwestern Baengnyeongdo Island on Monday, chief of the Antarctic research center Kang Cheong-yun’s voice was crystal clear over the phone.

The successful test was conducted a day prior to the launch of telecommunications firm KT’s broadband LTE-A services on the island which will connect around 5,000 residents and 5,000 naval officers and marines to people outside.

The beginning of the LTE services on the island is in line with the telecom firm’s initiative, called GiGA Island, to spread the LTE networks to every corner of the nation.

“The company will install the GiGA network infrastructure on around 500 inhabited islands in five years to help the public utilize telecom services without a hitch under any condition,” said Oh Sung-mock, chief of KT’s network division, at the launch ceremony.
 
Ha Young-sook (right), an 84-year old resident of Baengnyeongdo Island, checks her heart rate with a smart watch and a tablet PC at the local health center Tuesday. (KT)
Ha Young-sook (right), an 84-year old resident of Baengnyeongdo Island, checks her heart rate with a smart watch and a tablet PC at the local health center Tuesday. (KT)

Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok, and Cho Yun-gil, the chief of Ongjin-gun and around 100 Baengnyeongdo islanders took part in the Tuesday event.

The installation of the LTE network on the island, around 190 kilometers northwest of Incheon City, follows two previous projects ― one in Imjado, an island in South Jeolla Province and another in Daeseong-dong, a town in the demilitarized zone in Gyeonggi Province― last year.

In order to provide stable and fast mobile services on Baengnyeongdo, KT deployed a range of new technologies including the so-called GiGA Microwave technology, which allows five times faster network services, at 1Gbps, than the current microwave communications technology.

The GiGA Microwave technology uses microwaves to transmit data and does not require fiber optical cables ― which are vulnerable to external impact such as those by anchors ― to guarantee stability of mobile networks, a KT official explained.

To expand the network coverage on the island, the mobile carrier made use of the 4-transmit 4-receive system, or the four antenna system, codeveloped by KT and Samsung Electronics. The 4T4R expands the network coverage of a single LTE station up to 120 kilometers and doubles data transmission rates.
 
Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok (left), KT’s network division chief Oh Sung-mok (center), and Marine Corps Brigade Gen. Cho Kang-rae have a video conference in a shelter on Baengnyeongdo Island on Tuesday. (KT)
Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok (left), KT’s network division chief Oh Sung-mok (center), and Marine Corps Brigade Gen. Cho Kang-rae have a video conference in a shelter on Baengnyeongdo Island on Tuesday. (KT)

A total of 26 LTE walkie-talkies have been installed in every shelter on the island for emergencies such as North Korean attacks and natural disasters.

KT also adopted the satellite broadband LTE services for the first time in the world to enable the residents to use data and telecommunications services in case of breakdowns of fiber optic cables or the microwave communications infrastructure.

Also installed across the island are smart monitoring systems at piers. Residents can monitor their docked boats and ships in real time with their smartphones even when they are away at inland towns for errands.

Samsung Gear S smart watches that KT distributed to the elderly on the island would keep recording the health information of the old residents including heart rate and automatically share the data with health centers and their family members.

“The telecommunications networks and health care solutions will help improve the lives of the islanders,” a resident said.

Hwang Chang-gyu, the chief executive of KT, introduced the GiGA Island initiative during the meetings of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a U.N.-led global initiative to promote ICT, last October, and received praise for the firm’s efforts to support less connected areas.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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