Korean telcos set sights on connected cars

By Shin Ji-hye

KT working with Hyundai and Benz, while SKT partners BMW and Ericsson

  • Published : Oct 9, 2017 - 16:35
  • Updated : Oct 9, 2017 - 16:35
Korean telecom companies are speeding up their partnerships with automakers and development of the fifth-generation network infrastructure to embrace upcoming connected and self-driving cars that could become new revenue streams for the telcos.

A connected car is a vehicle that provides safety, convenience and infotainment for drivers by integrating automobiles with information technology. It requires a 5G network that enables the transmission of massive data generated from vehicles and road infrastructure.

“When a 5G network is commercialized, mobile carriers will see vast business opportunities from connected cars such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, car infotainment and digital maps,” said Lee Kyung-soo, a professor at Seoul National University’s mechanical engineering college. 

SK Telecom

The nation’s three mobile carriers KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus have begun to embrace opportunities by cooperating with local and global automakers.

KT is working with Hyundai Motor for the automaker’s connected-car system Blue Link that enables drivers to connect their smartphones or smartwatches to their vehicles via a wireless communications network.

It also partnered with Mercedes-Benz Korea for the carmaker’s new connected service called “Mercedes me connect” to provide network and map technologies.

The Mercedes me connect service features roadside assistance and artificial intelligence-based support.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom demonstrated the 5G network within a connected car early this year in partnership with BMW Korea and Ericsson. SKT provided a peak rate of 3.6 Gbps data transmission speed for a connected car traveling at 170 kilometers per hour at the BMW Driving Center in Yeonjong Island.

The nation’s smallest mobile carrier, LG Uplus, also partnered with Ssangyong Motor and Tech Mahindra, the internet technology unit of Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra, to develop connected cars in September last year.

“Connected cars are predicted to become a new revenue stream for telecom companies as each car can be a new subscriber to in-vehicle infotainment or connected car services in the future, like smartphones now,” KT official said.

Telecom companies are also developing 5G network infrastructure for self-driving cars in partnership with regional governments.

KT said Monday it joined the self-driving pilot city in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, to build a pilot 5G network this year. The pilot city will become the world’s first residential area for self-driving cars by 2019. SK Telecom also announced last month it would build 5G network infrastructure in K-City, a pilot city for self-driving automobiles.

By Shin Ji-hye (