South Korea to award additional 5G spectrum in November

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South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has announced it will award 28 GHz and sub-6 GHz spectrum in November to boost the use of 5G-related services across the country, Korean press reported.

According to the report, the frequencies will be available for mobile operators and for companies operating in different verticals.

The Korean government announced it will make available a total of 600 megahertz in the 28 GHz band and 100 megahertz in the 4.7 GHz band.

The 28 GHz band will be divided into 12 blocks and the 4.7 GHz band into 10 blocks, respectively. The spectrum in the 4.7 GHz band will be offered to non-telecom companies, according to the report.

This move paves the way for local companies such as tech giant Samsung Electronics or online portal Naver Corp., to operate specialized 5G networks.

The ministry said that the allocation of this new frequencies will allow companies to operate 5G networks across various industries and offer new service such as smart factories, healthcare, robotics and smart farms.

Interested firms will have until the end of September to apply for the new 5G spectrum. The length of the licenses ranges from two to five years. The Korean government also said that the 5G spectrum is expected to be allocated by the end of November.

South Korea has already awarded spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands to local carriers SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus. South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via NonStandalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks. The country’s three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities.

South Korea ended April with a total of 15.15 million 5G subscribers, according to the latest available data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

5G subscribers at the end of April accounted for 21.25% of the total 71.27 million mobile subscriptions in the country.

The latest figure marks a slowdown in 5G user growth compared with the start of the year. The country added around 671,000 5G subscriptions during April, compared with a net addition of over 1 million 5G users during January.

The country’s largest carrier SK Telecom ended April with a total of 7.07 million subscribers in the 5G segment, followed by KT with 4.6 million and LG Uplus with 3.47 million.

In related news, South Korea’s ICT ministry also said it will work with the country’s mobile operators to test millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G technology in the Seoul subway system.

The ministry said it would work with SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus as well as Seoul Metro to implement a backhaul network based on mmWave 5G for Wi-Fi on the Seoul subway system.

According to the report, the operator will test the technology across a 5.4-kilometer section on Line 2 from Sinseoldong Station to Seongsu Station with network equipment from Samsung Electronics.