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SKT to invest W11tr in AI, IoT and 5G

SKT CEO Park Jung-ho delivers a New Year’s speech at the company’s headquarters in Seoul on Jan. 2. (SKT)
SKT CEO Park Jung-ho delivers a New Year’s speech at the company’s headquarters in Seoul on Jan. 2. (SKT)
SK Telecom will invest a total of 11 trillion won ($9.2 billion) over the next three years in laying the groundwork for the Internet of Things and a fifth generation wireless network, the company announced Wednesday.

Five trillion won has been added to SKT’s annual investment plan, as the company decided to enhance its focus on the “New ICT ecosystem,” a fully open environment connected by a variety of technologies and services.

The new investment will be made in artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and IoT, South Korea’s largest mobile carrier said.

SKT CEO Park Jung-ho emphasized the urgency of the new investment decision.

“As we witnessed at the CES 2017, investment in creating the New ICT ecosystem can no longer be postponed,” Park said in a statement. “SKT will establish the new system through cooperation with others.”

Earlier, the company announced it would work with leading US-based graphic chipmaker Nvidia to develop new platform technologies for autonomous vehicles.

The mobile carrier will cooperate with SK holdings C&C and SK hynix – the carrier’s IT solution and semiconductor affiliates -- to develop AI and cloud technologies that will be used to upgrade the T map navigation service and in connected cars.

On IoT, SKT highlighted cooperation with startups. It will run a facility named “IoT Open House” for developers and startups, where they can learn about IoT services and get support for product development.

The mobile carrier will also set up a venture support center in Seoul in partnership with Facebook, Nokia and Intel within the first half of the year. It is part of the ongoing Telco Infra Project with global partners.

“If the investment goes well, it will add about 9 trillion won in production of related industries and 60,000 new jobs,” a company official said.

With a plan to establish the 5G network and the 2.6-gigahertz band by 2019, the telecom business will spend 6 trillion won, it said.

For its local area network service, the company will expand the Giga Internet network and coverage of ultrahigh-definition broadcasting channels.

SKT will run trial 5G services during the second half of this year with an aim to officially commercialize the services in 2020.

By Song Su-hyun (