The Korea Herald


Korea to offer 5G frequencies to non-telcos

By Song Su-hyun

Published : June 29, 2021 - 17:09

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(Ministry of Science and ICT) (Ministry of Science and ICT)
South Korea will offer additional frequency bands for further 5G deployment and non-telecom companies are eligible to join the bid, the Ministry of Science and ICT announced Tuesday.

The wireless spectrums to be provided are a 600 megahertz block of a 28 Gigahertz frequency band and another 100MHz block of 4.7GHz.

According to the ministry plan, the government will divide the 28GHz band into 12 blocks, and the 4.7GHz band into 10 blocks for the frequency rollout and companies or institutions seeking to acquire the frequencies can decide on the number of blocks they want.

Interested organizations should apply for purchase by October. The allotment will be provided for use of up to five years, and will be announced as early as November.

“The supply of the 5G frequencies for special networks will expand the use of the 5G network into various industries, creating new added values through convergence and innovation among different industries,” a ministry official said.

By special networks, the government refers to the 5G deployment by non-telecom companies, such as Samsung Electronics for the establishment of a smart factory.

For its first rollout of 5G frequencies in 2018, the government held an auction, with only the three mobile carriers SKT, KT and LG Uplus allowed to be eligible bidders.

This time around, other than the fact that non-telcos can join, the pricing will be different.

The prices of the frequency blocks will be set by the government, in accordance with coverage areas of network services, sizes of populations and conditions of network equipment and other surroundings, the ministry said.

The standard price for a 10MHz block of 4.7GHz is set at 100,000 won, while a 50MHz block of 28GHz is priced at 50,000 won.

The ministry said the unit price of 28GHz is set to a tenth of the 4.7GHz price, considering the characteristics of the high-frequency band, network equipment and devices.

The ministry also decided to cut the three-month examination of companies’ frequency usage plans to one month.

The Korean ICT ministry has come up with the additional 5G frequency supply plan amid continuing complaints about the poorer-than-expected quality of the nationwide 5G network services.

Despite their efforts to make Korea the world’s first 5G-enabled country, network operators have been the target of public criticism over slower-than-expected network speeds and expensive mobile bills after the launch of 5G network in April 2019.

Korea’s nationwide 5G services are mostly operated by using the 3.5GHz band, through which the maximum download speed falls just short of being 20 times faster than 4G Long Term Evolution, a figure promised by the telcos.

SKT, KT and LG Uplus unveiled their plans to use the additional frequency blocks during a meeting with ICT Minister Lim Hye-soon on Monday.

SKT announced it plans to establish 28GHz-based 5G networks at Coex and Jamsil Baseball Stadium in southern Seoul and at Jeju World Cup Stadium.

The company’s goal for its 28GHz service is to have more people actually experience the network quality in public places like the chosen venues.

SKT plans to enable virtual reality conferences, real-time high-definition streaming and the operation of autonomous driving robots at the places.

For Coex, the largest convention center in southern Seoul, SKT plans to make the 28GHz service available by July.

KT said it has completed the deployment of a 28GHz wireless network at Suwon Wiz Park in Gyeonggi Province earlier this month and will test-offer 10 different services, including hologram, metaverse/cloud games, VR, 5G UHD streaming and AI robots.

It will also provide 28GHz-based WiFi service at Mokdong Chamber Hall in western Seoul in September.

LG Uplus has picked historical sites, including Buyeo and Gongju in Chungcheong Province, to provide augmented reality and high-speed content services on history and culture.

The company will also establish 28GHz networks at Gwangju Champions Field Baseball Stadium and Bexco in Busan next month to provide high-speed streaming services and 28GHz WiFi.

LG will deploy the special 5G networks at three golf courses, including Rainbow Hills in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, to livestream KLPGA tournaments.