Global Opportunities

Korea: a global powerhouse of 5G

After the intense battle to claim the first nation with full-fledged 5G network, Korea has seized the crown on 3 April, reaffirming its reputation as a global ICT powerhouse. The nation's three telecom companies - SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus - simultaneously kicked off services for Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S10 5G, the only 5G-enabld model in the market, and the number of 5G subscribers exceeded 100,000 on the fourth day after the commercial launch. While the 5G network is undoubtedly hailed as the infrastructure of the fourth industrial revolution, the Korean mobile carriers are now in fierce competition to position themselves as leading players in the 5G space.

a person holding a phone

Since the showcase of the 5G network, the telecom companies competitively have been demonstrating a glimpse of the dazzling future and multidimensional cooperation in industries as diverse as automotive, gaming, medicine and smart factory. Amidst the flood of revolutionary technologies that 5G network creates, the focus is heavily on AR and VR, opening up new opportunities for global companies with state-of-the-art innovations.

South Korea – a testbed of tomorrow

LG Uplus Corp, in hands with Doosan Infracore, a worldwide leader in infrastructure solutions based Korea, unveiled a 5G remote controllable excavator in Munich. The remote excavator was operated at Incheon, Seoul, by means of the latest, super high-speed network from a control station located in Munich. The remote system worked in real time, despite the distance of 8,500 kilometres. Further work is still underway for expanding the technology to reduce lag, as well as to make sure a secure data link is provided. In order to secure safety in the era of 5G, where everything in the real world is connected wirelessly, SK telecom is focusing on cybersecurity in mobile communications by collaborating with a Swiss counterpart.

Advancing in collaboration with Swiss companies

The telecom giant announced strategic investment plan of USD65 million into Geneva-based ID Quantique. Quantum cryptography has emerged as an essential solution for safeguarding critical information. The technology encrypts transmitted data using special quantum keys, which, according to the laws of quantum physics, are impossible to intercept or steal. New trials are also driven by industries which will benefit from the 5G network and bring the imaginary future to the present –automobile navigation, smart cities and digital healthcare, just to name a few. Hyundai, for example, in collaboration with Swiss deep-tech company WayRay AG, introduced the world‘s first holographic augmented reality navigation system at the CES 2019 in Las Vegas, a safety technology that puts stereoscopic guidance icons and navigational alerts right on the roadway in front of a driver. The stereoscopic information displayed on the road is even appropriately adjusted in accordance with the specific viewing angle of the driver.

Investment by conglomerates for new 5G contents

Mobile carriers are increasingly utilizing VR and AR technologies as “killer” contents in order to find new profit models that will make up for their enormous investments into the construction of 5G networks. The high-speed and ultra-low-latency of the 5G make the VR and AR contents optimal services which carry a large amount of data. Korea Telecom (KT), in cooperation with a local VR game company, Oasis, planned to launch a virtual dating game ‘Love revolution’, while SK Telecom collaborated with Korea’s biggest entertainment company SM Entertainment and launched a karaoke application ‘Dancing VR,’ which features K-pop stars. The aggressive investment does not only come from telecom giants. LG Technology Ventures is investing massively in promising companies related to mobility, AI, robotics, VR, biomaterials, and next-generation displays. Its most recently invested company is a VR platform service startup "AmazeVR". AmazeVR is a VR platform service start-up to enhance content capabilities and provides more than 300 virtual reality contents to online platforms. Recently, it produced interactive virtual reality video contents and LG Technologies invested USD2 million in AmazeVR.

The government’s full backing for 5G

Earlier this month, April 2019, President Moon Jae-in pledged to invest more than KRW30 trillion (USD26 billion) to build a nationwide full-fledged 5G network by 2022, with a plan to promote 5G-based industries extensively. Given concerns over the lack of 5G content, the president chose five key service sectors based on the hyperspeed network: wireless standards, including immersive content, smart factories, autonomous driving, smart cities and digital health care. Regarding autonomous driving, the government said it will operate self-driving shuttles by 2020 in major cities, such as Daegu and Pangyo. Five years later, about 1000 5G-powered buses will be available in provincial municipalities. As for the digital health care system, 5G-based emergency medical treatment services will be developed by 2021, according to the government. Some 20% of emergency medical centers will be able to use the system by 2025.

Another leap for 6G

Korea is already on its way to move on to the next page of the 5G. LG Electronics and KAIST have opened a 6G research center to lead in next-generation mobile telecommunications. The LG-Electronics-KAIST 6G Research Center will be housed at Daejeon, which is home to the university's KAIST Institute research complex. LG Electronics said it will use the institute's personnel and infrastructure to preemptively secure technology for 6G.

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Opportunities in Korea

Are you interested in 5G technologies in autonomous driving, smart cities, smart factories and digital healthcare as well as leveraging augmented reality and virtual reality? Are you looking for Korean counterparts for R&D cooperation and investment from Korea? Contact our S-GE consultant for Korea.