With the spread of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a wind of change is blowing into the business world. Companies with creative ideas are moving fast to get ahead of their rivals by showcasing innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. In the fast-evolving global market, Korean companies are aiming to secure the top position with amazing innovation, brilliant ideas and cutting-edge technologies. From today’s installment of Business Watch, we’ll introduce Korean businesses that are taking the lead in bringing about changes with new ideas and will hopefully lead the future of the global economy. Today, we’ll meet with telecom company KT Corporation, which tested its fifth-generation or 5G network services for the first time in the world at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last month. Let’s hear from Kim Young-in, KT’s managing director in charge of network strategies.
During the Winter Olympic Games, KT deployed its 5G trial network in Olympic host cities PyeongChang and Gangneung and also at the promotional zone in Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul, where numerous tourists as well as Olympic officials visited. By using the 5G network, KT ran immersive and exciting media services called “Inside the Track.” In the past, people outside the stadium had to watch the games on TV. But these services allowed people to feel as though they were inside the arena. For example, a tiny camera attached onto a bobsled transmitted live footage from the athletes’ point of view as they raced down the tracks, and the camera footage was broadcast live to the world through KT’s 5G-based technology so viewers could feel as if they were riding in a sled. KT applied its 5G technology to the opening ceremony as well to fascinate viewers the world over.
The PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which were held for 17 days from February 9, became an even more exciting event thanks to KT’s information and communications technology or ICT. At the Winter Games, KT installed a 5G trial network, which is up to 20 times faster than the 4G long-term evolution or LTE network, at major gyms and experience zones to offer users with real-time content. For example, a 5G-dependent video technology called “Interactive Time Slice” connects photos taken by 100 cameras at the same time as if the scenes had been taken with a movie camera. A multi-view streaming service known as “Omni View” allows users to see real-time video and event information of a particular time frame they want. Another technology, “Sync View,” shows the viewpoint of an athlete as they compete. These 5G technologies were applied to figure skating, short track speed skating and cross-country events to catch the eyes of winter sports fans. The performance of a giant peace dove that lit up the night sky with 1,200 LED candles during the opening ceremony was also held on KT’s 5G network. The company operated its “5G connected busses” in PyeongChang and Gangneung during the Olympic period to demonstrate the 5G and ICT Olympics. Foreign media outlets highly praised KT’s cutting-edge ICT, saying that 5G technologies have made their debut in PyeongChang. But the telecom service provider had made a lot of effort for a long time before it won the praise.
KT has developed core 5G technologies in recent years for the world’s first pilot run of 5G network services at the PyeongChang Olympics. The 5G technologies are well seen in the equipment and terminal comprising the 5G trial network. In fact, the industry initially expected that the 5G network would be put into commercial operation in 2020. But for a trial service at the PyeongChang Winter Games in February this year, KT worked with global companies and completed the “5G standard of PyeongChang” in June 2016. And it successfully conducted the test of connecting the 5G network, terminal and service in October 2017. For the 5G network standard, KT used an ultra-wide bandwidth with up to 800 megahertz, not the previous LTE bandwidth with 20 MHz, so the company could provide data transmission speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. Its ultra-low latency is only one-tenth of that of the existing LTE connectivity services. Another 5G technology known as Massive MIMO was used to compensate path loss in the 28 gigahertz band.
In 2015, when the concept and requirements for 5G were not even clear, KT collaborated with global firms such as Samsung Electronics and Intel to define the 5G standard of PyeongChang and began to develop various technologies and equipment. For seamless communications and broadcasting during the Olympics, the company built telecommunications infrastructure stretching over 11,000 kilometers. During the Olympic period, more than 1,000 network specialists operated the telecom infrastructure. This year, the company was able to conduct the pilot operation of 5G network services, which had been expected to be introduced in 2020. Why did it declare the arrival of the 5G era on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympics?
The Olympics are a global sports festival but also a venue to showcase the host country’s innovative technologies. During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the first black and white TV broadcasts were made. After the world’s first live color TV relay broadcast of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Japan established itself as a global electronics powerhouse. As South Korea’s representative mobile carrier and the official telecom partner of the PyeongChang Winter Games, KT hoped to show the newest 5G technologies for the first time in the world to once again demonstrate South Korea’s status as an ICT powerhouse to the entire world. If 5G technologies had not been unveiled in PyeongChang, they would be shown at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Boasting a long history of over 130 years, KT has produced another meaningful result this year.
In the course of preparing for the large-scale 5G network for the PyeongChang Olympics, KT accumulated various experiences and expertise to advance the roadmap for the commercial use of 5G services by global ICT firms. KT will actively join the 5G commercialization competition, which will start in earnest after this year’s Olympics. It will try its best to lead the global 5G market through cooperation with global manufacturers and achieve the world’s first commercialization of 5G services through the timely use of 5G technologies, which are the core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
With mobile carriers around the world intensely competing to adopt 5G services, KT got off to a fine start with its technology demonstration in PyeongChang. Based on its PyeongChang specifications, it aims to move forward commercializing the 5G network.
Based on its successful pilot run in PyeongChang, KT plans to start the world’s first commercial operation of a 5G network in early 2019. In the fourth quarter of the year, it will complete the development of technical specifications for commercial use of 5G and start installing the network nationwide. A smartphone-type 5G terminal is scheduled for release early next year, when the company will declare the world’s first commercialization of 5G services.
The commercialization of 5G services is projected to generate 12.3 trillion dollars of value in 16 industries by the year 2035. Many breakthroughs are also anticipated for areas requiring next-generation IT convergence technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and self-driving vehicles. To dominate the huge market in advance, KT is accelerating the development of 5G technologies. Now, the company is leading the global Fourth Industrial Revolution.