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Mobile carriers step up partnerships for future mobility services

Officials from KT Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., Incheon International Airport Corp. and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. (Hyundai Motor Co.)
Officials from KT Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., Incheon International Airport Corp. and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. (Hyundai Motor Co.)
As the global transport sector braces for future mobility services like flying taxis, South Korean telecom operators are strengthening partnerships with both auto giants and startups alike to join the industry shift.

Major local carriers have emerged as key players in the transport shake-up as network infrastructure and technology are crucial in developing future vehicles.

Earlier this week, major telecom firm KT Corp. joined hands with the country's largest carmaker, Hyundai Motor Co., as well as Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and the Incheon International Airport Corp., to develop an urban air mobility (UAM) service.

Under the agreement, KT will develop and test a communications platform that connects and manages the flying vehicles, while Hyundai Motor will be responsible for their production. Hyundai E&C has agreed to develop the vehicle's takeoff stations, and Incheon International Airport will research a potential UAM shuttle service.

The partnership comes after South Korea announced in June plans to commercialize UAM by 2025, which promises to slash city dwellers' time stuck in traffic.

The transport ministry estimates the value of the local UAM market to reach 13 trillion won ($11.2 billion) by 2040, with the global market size estimated at 730 trillion won.

KT said it is considering plans to further develop UAM as a last-mile delivery service by utilizing its nationwide infrastructure of communication facilities as delivery stations for the vehicles.

Its local rival LG Uplus Corp. is also setting its sights on future mobility via a partnership with Hanbul Motors, a local importer of auto brands under France's PSA Group, such as Peugeot and DS Automobiles, a premium spin-off of Citroen.

Under the partnership, the telecom operator will introduce connected car technology to the two brands in South Korea.

LG Uplus said it will first apply its navigation platform to DS' new electric vehicle (EV), the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, and expand features, such as a voice-recognition system that can control smart devices at home.

The telecom operator also teamed up with local mobility startup Autonomous a2z Co. in June to develop a self-driving car platform using its 5G network.

LG Uplus said its vehicle-to-everything technology, which incorporates the latest generation network, allows vehicles and traffic infrastructure to communicate seamlessly and ensure passenger safety.

SK Telecom Co., the country's top mobile carrier, currently operates the taxi-hailing service T Map Taxi, based on its navigation app that boasts 12.5 million monthly active users.

The telecom operator also partnered with local social venture Coactus Ltd. in 2018 to launch another taxi-hailing app for hearing-impaired drivers. (Yonhap)