South Korea’s big three telcos to share 5G in remote regions

South Korea’s three largest telcos are coming together to bring 5G to remote and coastal areas in the country.

SK Telecom, KT Corporation, and LG Uplus Corporation have signed an agreement that will see users in remote locations access 5G regardless of the mobile carrier they subscribed to.

This means that if a user is subscribed to SK Telecom, but SK Telecom’s mobile network does not cover the remote location that he or she is based and KT Corp.’s does, the user will still be able to activate 5G and surf the net with KT Corp.

This collaboration comes as part of the country’s ongoing plan to roll out 5G nationwide. In 2020, all three telcos vowed to invest up to $23 billion (KRW 25.7 trillion) to upgrade their network infrastructure.

The Ministry of Science and ICT said that the plan will currently undergo testing, and is scheduled for commercialisation in phases by April 2024.

The ministry also added that the selected remote regions are sparsely populated, with a population density of 92 people per square kilometer, compared with those without network sharing at 3,490 people per square kilometer.

As of February, the country had 13.66 million 5G subscriptions, accounting for 19 per cent of its total mobile users. South Korea was the world’s first country to commercialize 5G in April 2019.

SK Telecom launches the first 5G Edge Cloud service in South Korea

South Korea’s largest telecommunications provider, SK Telecom has launched the country’s first 5G cloud service that supports edge computing.

Named ‘SKT 5GX Edge’, SK Telecom joined hands with cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the launch.

SKT 5GX Edge uses AWS’ Wavelength technology, and the service will allow users to build and perform a variety of services and functions, including ultra-low latency mobile apps, video games, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning tools.

Alongside this, the collaboration between SK Telecom and AWS has also seen the establishment of ‘AWS Wavelength Zones’, which are infrastructure deployments that facilitate, in this case, SKT 5GX Edge.

As of now, South Korea’s first AWS Wavelength Zone is located in Daejeon, the country’s administrative and transportation hub. Both companies plan to expand the Wavelength Zone to Seoul this year.

SK Telecom subsidiaries eyeing IPOs for South Korea tech domination

South Korea’s top telecom operator, SK Telecom, is looking at placing initial public offerings next year for its digital service subsidiaries.

The move is widely expected after the mobile carrier announced intentions of an IPO for its internet protocol TV operator SK Broadband and video streaming service operator Content Wavve.

“SK Broadband’s sales growth continues as the local pay TV market is increasingly centered around IPTVs,” said Jang Min-jun, an Analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

Recently, SK E&S announced its intentions to invest US$1.7 billion in setting up a data center in Saemangeum as part of a long term plan with SK Broadband to expand its digital presence in South Korea.

Among SK Telecom’s ICT subsidiaries, the first IPO candidate is likely to be Android app market unit ONE Store, which has an estimated value of US$855.1 million (1 trillion won).

Smart security firm ADT Caps is also predicted to subscribing an IPO due to an increased demand for unmanned systems. In 2018, SK Telecom paid US$603.8 million (702 billion won) for a 55% stake in Siren Holdings Korea, which owns 100% of ADT Caps.

Analysts expect the IPOs to accelerate SK Telecom’s goal to move beyond its telecommunications realm and become a tech giant.

“The IPOs could lead SK Telecom’s transition to an ICT holding company from just a network service provider,” said Choi Nam-kon, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea, said in a report by The Korea Herald.

SK Telecom is considering dropping ‘Telecom’ from its name to shift away from its network-focused business and branch out into the wider digital space, according to the company’s CEO, Jung-Ho Park.

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Image Credit: Pierre Metivier

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Xbox Cloud Gaming to be launched in Korea next month by Microsoft and SK Telecom

In partnership with SK Telecom, Microsoft is set to launch their Xbox cloud gaming platform on September 15 2020.

The new service claims to enable users to play games anywhere they want by accessing cloud servers on Android smartphones and tablets.

Gamers will be given access to more than 100 games by Xbox Game Studios and global game creators through Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Popular gaming titles on the cloud gaming platform, formerly known as Project xCloud, will include Minecraft Dungeons, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon 4.

“We’re grateful for our continued partnership with SK Telecom. They were instrumental in delivering our Project xCloud preview through their leading 5G network technology,” said Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Gaming Cloud.

Microsoft and SK Telecom began working together from September 2019 to make 5G-based cloud gaming in Korea a reality to cater to customers of the world’s fourth largest gaming market.

“Going forward, we will further enrich gamers’ experience by making more games available in the Korean language and identifying promising Korean games,” said Jeon Jin-soo, the Vice President and Head of 5GX Service Business Group at SK Telecom.

The subscription to play on the cloud gaming platform will cost US$14 per month.

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