By Jenny Lee WIRED Korea
The adoption of 5G technology is growing. And it’s growing rapidly in Korea, the first country in the world to launch 5G commercial networks.
Since Korea’s mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus – simultaneously rolled out the nationwide 5G networks last year, the country’s 5G subscribers have topped 5.7 million and some 115,000 base stations were built, the Ministry of Science and ICT’s recent data showed. Korea's 5G penetration rate is 9.7 percent, the highest around the globe.
With Korean operators now bent on expanding the coverage of their 5G networks, it will not be long before Koreans get a real taste of the technology whose performance far outstrips anything possible from LTE wireless networks – roughly 20 times faster download speeds and significantly lower latency times, or the amount of time between data leaving a source and arriving at its desired destination.
Alongside the growth of 5G networks comes the rise of mobile edge computing (MEC), a network architecture that processes large amounts of data quickly at the network edge, closer to where data is generated, instead of large, centralized cloud data centers. The aim of spreading the load of cloud computing is to reduce congestion on mobile networks and create the ultra-low latency demanded by cutting-edge technologies like autonomous vehicles, telemedicine, industrial automation and smart cities.
To be the frontrunner in the technology, a key enabler for digital transformation across a slew of industries in the 5G era, Korean telecom operators are already locked in a fierce competition. With a unified standard for implementing MEC yet to be established, SK Telecom and KT are actively seeking to reflect their technologies in 5G MEC international standards, which are still under discussion.
SK Telecom has proposed interworking 5G MEC systems, allowing clients to use the same 5G MEC services regardless of regions or carriers, while KT has proposed Multi-Access Management Services (MAMS), a technology developed in cooperation with Nokia Bell Labs, Intel and Broadcom that optionally manages access routes based on the purpose or use of different equipment and networks such as 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi and DSL. Both proposals are being considered by consultative bodies such as the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
In January, SK Telecom announced the launch of the Global MEC Task Force with a group of Asian operators, including Singtel, Globe, Taiwan Mobile and PCCW Global, to work toward international MEC standards to support interoperability across carriers.
Korea’s largest mobile carrier has also joined hands with nine other companies including Deutsche Telekom AG of Germany, KDDI Corp. of Japan and EE Ltd. of Britain to launch commercial 5G edge cloud service. The company has built 12 MEC centers across the country to improve the coverage and is working with cloud companies like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
KT has also formed an alliance in January with five major global telecommunication firms to develop interoperable 5G specifications for developers and operators. The members of the 5G Future Forum include America Movil of Mexico, Rogers Wireless of Canada, Telstra of Australia, Verizon Wireless of the United States and Vodafone of Britain.
In March, the mobile carrier announced it has succeeded in verifying its 5G MEC technology with Spain's Telfonica, Australia's Telstra and China Unicom. It has also constructed eight MEC footholds nationwide to optimize its 5G network’s performance and rolled out business-to-business edge cloud services last month.
“Once there’s a common standard for 5G MEC, the access speed to technology and services overseas will be much faster as platforms are connected to one another,” KT said in a statement. “For our clients, this means faster access to the latest technology.”
저작권자 © WIRED Korea 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
이 기사를 공유합니다