Thursday, May 2, 2019

Korea's place in the race to 5G networks

In my own research and work with Korean colleagues I have characterized Korea's digital development as "network-centric," beginning with the revolutionary developments that took place in the 1980s, starting with the influential and visionary Long Term Plan to Foster the Electronics Sector.  The latest phase in this network-centric approach to national development involves the global race to build and commercialize 5G mobile networks.  The Korea Joongang Daily today published an interesting account, asking whether all the effort to be first with 5G was worth it.  Projections of growth in the global 5G market, along with the broad range of service markets that will utilize 5G would certainly seem to indicate its worth. 
However, as shown by a map of KT's 5G base stations as of April 2019, completion and commercialization of Korea's 5G networks is a long term project.  Network construction has started in the Seoul/national capital metropolitan area and other large cities.  Even in those cities, the project has a long way to go.   As noted by The Korea Joongang Daily  "The remaining task for the government and mobile carriers now - apart from building up 5G infrastructure to stabilize the network - is to build a solid 5G business ecosystem that can turn the network from a futuristic technology to an actual moneymaker."  In its efforts to accomplish these tasks, Korea is engaged in a race that is global in scope. another report on 5G by The Korea Joongang Daily.
Although Samsung Electronics may provide much of the network equipment for Korea's 5G networks, in the global context it still represents a small market share, as shown by the accompanying graphic.

Robot workers in Korea

Empirical data show that Korean workers put in some of the longest work hours of any country in the world.  However, Korea's industrial robots work even longer!  Furthermore, the use of industrial robots has grown in large part because the main engine of Korea's export-led economy is the ICT sector.  As shown in this graphic from Statista, (click for a larger version) Korea continues to lead the world in manufacturing robot density (the number of installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry).  As noted in the Executive Summary World Robotics 2018 Industrial Robots, as of 2016 the electrical/electronics industry became the most important customer for industrial robots in almost all major Asian markets, e.g. China, Japan, Republic of Korea. Korea leads the way and Singapore has been rapidly catching up with about 90 percent of industrial robots in both countries installed in the electronics industry.  Writing this short post reminds me of the day I spent with Goldstar (now LG ) before the 1988 Seoul Olympics, including a tour of their manufacturing facility for VHS video recorders.   I was struck at the time by the extensive use of robots in the manufacture of videocassette recorders.   Looking ahead, where will this all lead?   Hint:  Korea will likely be a world leader in the emergence of the Internet of things (IoT)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Smart mobility system coming to Songdo

The local press is covering the signing of a business deal under which SK Telecom will build a 5G-powered smart mobility system in Songdo.  As reported by The Korea Times, under the agreement SKT and the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) "...will join hands to set up the 5G-based self-driving infrastructure, nurture related industries, and establish a data hub. SK Telecom said it plans to create high-definition (HD) maps in an area spanning 132.9 square kilometers, based on the firm's high-end 5G networks. HD maps, exclusively designed for autonomous vehicles, provide accurate information on the road ahead as well as the surrounding environment."

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Rocky start for 5G service in Korea

As the Chosun Ilbo English edition reported yesterday, 5G mobile service in Korea is "off to a rocky start."  The three mobile service providers were unable to deliver the speeds expected by customers who purchased 5G compatible phones. 
The slower than expected speeds delivered by 5G compatible phones were widely covered in Korea's mainstream media.  The Korea Joongang Daily reported that "LG Electronics has been in talks with mobile carriers to delay the release of its first 5G smartphone to ensure stable service."