Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The end of 2G mobile telephony in Korea


As reported by The Korea Joongang Daily and other local media, the Ministry of Science and ICT is allowing LGU+ to discontinue its 2G service in late June of this year. (click on the graphic at left to see some of the 2G phones that were popular beginning in the late 1990s)  The Joongang Daily article noted that "LG was the last of Korea's three mobile carriers to keep 2G services going. KT suspended them in 2012 and SK Telecom, the biggest in Korea, in July 2020." It went on to report that "As of mid-May, 140,000 LG U+ subscribers were using 2G networks, 0.82 percent of the carrier’s customer base. They will be offered discounts on plans using 4G LTE or 5G network. They will all need new phones, and will be offered free smartphones from among 15 options. For the sake of convenience, 2G users must be able to make the shift to 4G or 5G via phone, without visiting a store. For customers over 65, an LG U+ employee can visit their homes."  The end of an era, as Korea is pushing to increase adoption of its new 5G services.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Samsung's semiconductors and vaccines in the Moon-Biden summit


Semiconductors are in the news these days in advance of President Moon Jae-In's summit meeting with U.S. President Biden in Washington, D.C.  As reported by The Korea Times, "The government announced Thursday that it will help establish the world's largest semiconductor supply chain in Korea by 2030 in cooperation with firms in the private sector, including Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, to make the country a global leader in both memory and system chips. To achieve this auspicious goal, the administration said it will provide huge tax incentives to companies constructing semiconductor facilities, after chip manufacturers vowed to invest more than 510 trillion won ($450 billion) for this and research and development (R&D) by the target year."   The announcement was made during a meeting at a Samsung Electronics chip making plant in Pyeongtaek (click on the picture for a full-size version of the graphic).

What makes this announcement even more interesting are reports in Korean media that Samsung may be set to reach a "vaccine swap" with its investment in U.S.-based chip manufacturing.  As reported by The Korea Times in a separate article, "Samsung's biotechnology affiliate is set to reach a "vaccine swap" in return for the conglomerate's semiconductor unit investing billions of dollars to boost memory chip production in the United States. A few days before Moon's visit to Washington, D.C., Cheong Wa Dae said the two leaders are set to explore during the summit the best possible ways to boost bilateral cooperation in vaccines. More specifically, Lee Ho-seung, the President's chief policy secretary, said the U.S. has a strong interest in turning South Korea into a global vaccine production hub. Lee explained that the plan makes sense, since the U.S. possesses vaccine patents and raw materials, while South Korea possesses the world's second-highest drug manufacturing capacity."

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Samsung's new CXL-based memory chip module

Korea is the world leader in the production of memory chips, with Samsung and SK Hynix leading the way.  As reported in The Korea Times and other media, this week "Samsung Electronics unveiled the industry's first memory module supporting the new compute express link (CXL) interconnect standard. Integrated with its in-house double data rate 5 (DDR5) technology, this CXL-based module will enable server systems to significantly scale memory capacity and bandwidth, accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads in data centers."

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Jeonju: First in Bibimbap and 5G service


The Korean city of Jeonju has traditionally been known for bibimbap, a rice dish with vegetables and red pepper paste.  Now, as shown in this graphic from a recent OpenSignal measurement, the city has the fastest 5G service download in the world.  Why am I not surprised?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Korea's mobile carriers share 5G networks in remote areas

 As reported by Koreabizwire and other media, Korea's three major mobile carriers in mid-April agreed to "share their 5G networks in remote coastal and farm towns in a move to accelerate the rollout of the latest generation networks.."  The agreement was announced by the Ministry of Science and ICT.  "The carriers — SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. — signed an agreement so that 5G users can have access to the high-speed network regardless of the carrier they are subscribed to in 131 remote locations across the country, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. Under the plan, a 5G user would be able to use other carrier networks in such regions that are not serviced by his or her carrier. The ministry said telecom operators will test the network sharing system before the end of this year and aim for complete commercialization in phases by 2024."