|LG Uplus engineers check the firm's 5G equipment in Songdo, Incheon, Nov. 30. / Courtesy of LG Uplus
By Baek Byung-yeul
Korea will become the first country to start commercial fifth-generation (5G) network services as major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus -- will launch the super-fast network service at midnight on Dec. 1.
The three mobile carriers will start the 5G service in Seoul and other major cities. Their next-generation network services will focus on enterprise uses as there are no smartphones supporting 5G networks yet.
Verizon, a U.S. mobile carrier, launched its 5G services in four cities including Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento and Indianapolis, but Korean mobile carriers have claimed they will actually be the first ones to launch the next-generation network service. Verizon's hardware for the 5G service is not approved by the 5G service standards set by 3GPP, the industry standards body.
Though launching the super-fast network service seems to be something worth commemorating, the three mobile carriers will likely have hush-hush celebrations due to a recent fire at a KT cable tunnel in Seoul, Nov. 24, which led to a network blackout.
To celebrate their 5G launch, the three mobile carriers were scheduled to host press conferences showcasing their 5G demos and trials this week but they all canceled them saying it is time to join forces to solve the accident together.
SK Telecom and LG Uplus announced their 5G services for enterprise use while KT didn't give any details of its service as the firm has been focusing on recovering from damage caused by the fire.
SK Telecom, the country's largest carrier, said Myunghwa ― an auto part company based in Banwol Industrial Complex, Ansan, Gyeonggi Province ― will become its first 5G customer.
SK Telecom said Myunghwa will use its 5G-AI machine vision service to check the quality of auto part products. The high-resolution images of production lines will be sent to a cloud server which will use an AI server to verify the quality of the products.
SK Telecom said its 5G service for corporate purposes will be provided as a package that has mobile routers and network services. The firm added usage fees will be different at first as it offers customized services.
To take the leadership in the 5G era, LG Uplus has been rushing to establish its 5G networks across the country since October.
LG Uplus said it will have more than 7,000 base stations by the end of December. It has set up 4,100 5G base stations in 11 cities including Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Bucheon, Goyang, Gwangmyeong, Hanam and other cities in Gyeonggi Province.
LG Uplus said there have been growing demands for its 5G mobile routers, which requires a monthly payment of 50,000 won for 10 GB.
To expand its business-to-business portfolio using the 5G network, LG Uplus said it will adopt its 5G service to various sectors such as the remote controlling of heavy equipment and agricultural machines, drones, CCTV, smart factories and smart cities.