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."

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Hyundai Mobis M.Vision POP Concept model


Hyundai Mobis has released its Hyundai Mobis M.VISION POP concept mode. (click on the graphic for a full size version).  As reported by The Korea Times, the technology used in this vehicle is set to be commercialized within five years.  The report noted that "The vehicle's four wheels can be steered independently, even turning them 180 degrees, capable of moving sideways just like a crab," Hyundai Mobis said. "When linked with a smartphone, it personalizes the car settings through a digital display. For example, it detects when the driver is drowsy and moves the steering wheel to the passenger seat."  The report further noted that "The key description for the M.Vision POP is "PHOBILITY," a word that combines "phone" and "mobility." It has embedded a new technology that docks the smartphone on the steering wheel with the user able to steer the vehicle using the device." 

Monday, April 26, 2021

A milestone in Korea's new disaster network

With the announcement by KT and Samsung today marks a milestone in Korea's efforts to build and integrated national disaster network.  As reported by Yonhap News, "The government-led project to establish a next-generation wireless network allows for more efficient response against major natural disasters and accidents, according to KT. The project, which started in 2015, merged the networks of 333 state institutes, such as the police, railway, defense and firefighting agencies. The wireless network is also the world's first to cover a country's entire land area and waters, the telecom giant added."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

5G disinfection robot developed by SK Telecom


As reported by the Korea Joongang Daily, SK Telecom has launched a robot that utilizes 5G networks to not only disinfect buildings, but also to detect and break up gatherings of more than five people. (click on image for a larger version)  As noted in the article, "SK Telecom has created an disinfection robot that is able to detect people gathering in groups and ask them to separate. The company said that its “Keemi” robots started operations at Yongin Severance Hospital in Yongin, Gyeonggi, on Monday. Robots released under the Keemi brand specialize in hospitality services. Keemi robots at the Yongin Severance Hospital will operate around the clock to check whether visitors are properly wearing their masks, measure their body temperature and prevent people from gathering in groups indoors. The self-driving robot is also capable of constantly reporting its real-time location to a central operating program."   Furthermore, it notes that "The implementation of Keemi was possible because of the 5G network infrastructure embedded at the site. Established in March 2020, Yongin Severance was the first local hospital to have a 5G network installed in the building."

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

SK Telecom to split into two companies

The announcement by SK Telecom that it will split into two companies powerfully underscores the breadth and depth of the digital network revolution.  As reported by The Korea Joongang Daily, "SK Telecom is splitting into two companies, one for telecom assets and the other for its wide range of other businesses and interests.  ICT Investment, the tentative name of the new entity, will take the company’s interests in 11st, T Map Mobility, ADT Caps and SK hynix, which is 20.1 percent owned by SK Telecom." 

"The surviving company will hold telecom-related businesses, like SK Broadband, and continue executing investments in artificial intelligence, cloud and data centers. This “AI & Digital Infra” will also lead in the development of new business opportunities using 5G infrastructure." SK said.

The important takeaway here seems to be that the activities of SK Telecom and its new ICT investment arm will all center on digital technologies based on the current transformation of human capabilities to store, compute and communicate digital information.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Samsung to attend White House meeting on global chip shortage

The semiconductor industry lies at the heart of the digital network revolution that is transforming business, industry, government, education and society as the world shifts from the industrial, mass media era of the 20th century to the networked era of the 21st century.  Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Samsung is one of about 20 companies whose executives will attend a White House meeting tomorrow (Monday U.S. time) to discuss the global shortage of chips (semiconductors). 

As numerous posts in this blog have made clear, Korea's decision to focus on the semiconductor (chip) industry was effectively made in the early 1980s.  Samsung and SK Hynix are currently the world leaders in the manufacture of memory chips and are moving rapidly into other parts of the semiconductor industry.  

Samsung has a large (soon to become larger) manufacturing presence in the U.S. as shown by the graphic above (click for a full size image).  Overall, the White House meeting with semiconductor industry leaders this week underscores the strategic importance of this industry.  A few days ago the Korea Joongang Daily published this article highlighting the strategic stakes.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Korea as a test bed for the world

 As shown by these earlier posts over the years, I've been interested in the important role Korea can serve as a testbed for emerging digital technologies.   It has attained this status largely because of sustained emphasis on building digital network infrastructure, starting in the revolutionary 1980s.   The Korea Times recently published an article touching on this theme.   I recommend you read it here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

LG exits the smartphone market

 In a sign of the times, LG has announced that it will stop manufacturing smartphones.   As reported by The Korea Joongang Daily  and also widely covered in the Korean and international media, this move comes after 25 years in the business.  In a statement this week, LG explained that “The dominance of two companies was strengthening in the premium smartphone market, while competition in the affordable price segment was intensifying,” and “LG Electronics failed to actively respond [to such market conditions].” The company's statement also said that the move would “enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.”  

The manufacture and export of smartphones by Korea has been a major theme of this blog over the years, as shown by these search results.   Given the commoditization of smartphones, as mentioned in this post, it was perhaps inevitable that the global competition for their manufacture would pose a major challenge for Korean manufacturers.  In historical perspective, another factor to consider is the "smartphone shock" that affected Korea's ICT sector following the arrival of the i-Phone at the end of 2009-beginning of 2010.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Is Google search finally gaining traction in Korea?

Over the years I've posted frequently on the topic of Internet search engines and Google's failure to penetrate the Korean market, which was dominated by Naver.  (see some of the prior posts here)  Recently, The Korea Joongang Daily published a short article indicating that the long term trend of dominance by Naver began to change sometime after 2016.  The article contained this graphic (click for a full size version) indicating the shift in market share. As noted in the Joongang Daily article, " Google’s presence was negligible at 0.78 percent only five years ago, according to data tracker Internet Trend, but the share shot up to 41 percent this year, the average of the index between Jan.1 and March 10.  At the same time, the share of the homegrown portal shrank from 86 percent in 2016 to 53 percent this year. The change in the share indicates that the gain of Google has primarily come at the expense of Naver.  Both Naver and Google declined to confirm the numbers.  Industry insiders say that people in quest of unpaid query results turned towards Google especially for their research or work-related tasks." The shift reflected in this graphic, based on market share data from Internet Trends, would seem to indicate that something important is happening in the search market here in Korea.  Koreans in large numbers may be finding value in searching the global, multilingual internet, rather than relying only on Naver as a Korean language domestic portal for various types of information.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Measuring Korea's lead in 5G

 There are multiple ways of empirically measuring a nation's progress in building 5G networks.  The latest report from Opensignal, entitled "Benchmarking the Global 5G Experience" provides more detail on South Korea's leadership in the implementation and adoption of 5G networks.   As shown in the graphic (click for a full size version), Korea ranks first in download speed and second in upload speed, among the ten top countries in the study.  The report also gives the nation high ranks on measures of experience (video, games, voice apps) and extent (availability, reach).

Sunday, February 7, 2021

South Korea's lead in 5G

South Korea's ICT-driven development took off in the 1980s when the nation modernized and digitized its telephone network.  That is why, in recent publications, I have characterized this nation's approach as "Network-centric digital development."  It appears that this pattern will continue as next generation networks appear.   As shown in the graphic (click for a full size version) GSMA Intelligence predicts that Korea will continue to lead the world in consumer adoption of 5G through 2025.

Friday, February 5, 2021

South Korea leads the world in Bloomberg's Innovation Index

 For the seventh time in the nine years it has been published, South Korea ranked number one in the world on Bloomberg's Innovation Index.  For more detail, see the article here  (Click on the graphic at left for a full size version.) 

As shown in the table below (click on it for a full-size version), the seven criteria that make up the Bloomberg Innovation Index are as follows:   R&D Intensity, Manufacturing Value-Added, Productivity, High Tech Density, Tertiary Efficiency, Researcher Concentration, and Patent Activity.