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.

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