Seoul mulls ending wireless frequency exclusivity and make 5G available to non-telecos

2020.11.13 14:02:11 | 2020.11.13 14:02:37

The Korean government is mulling measures to open part of communication frequency bands traditionally monopolized by telcos to general businesses in a bid to bring life to 5G applications across the industry.

According to government and industry sources on Thursday, the Ministry of Science and ICT recently conducted a survey of multiple manufactures and IT companies to know whether they are interested in using local 5G.

Local 5G refers to 5G networks that local companies or municipalities can install and use in limited areas.

The local 5G project inspired by advanced counties where regional frequency utilization business models have been developed aims to help companies to turbocharge innovation based on their own communication networks especially in the area of smart factory driven by big data and artificial intelligence, smart hospital system and autonomous driving.

But the initial survey found that most target companies, including major IT firms such as Naver and Kakao, were lukewarm to the idea as they find using existing wireless carriers’ networks more cost effective.

The US, Germany, Japan, and the UK have been issuing licenses to allow manufacturing companies to use 5G frequencies.

In Germany, 33 companies, including Bosch, Siemens, BMW, and Volkswagen, have applied for licenses to build their own 5G networks. The German government allocated 3.7-3.8㎓ bands adjacent to the 5G frequency to them last November. Bosch decided to build a 5G network within this year on at least two sites, including its factory and research campus.

Hitachi in Japan introduced local 5G to its research facility in Tokyo last month. The company applied for a local 5G license from the government, and recently started a project to develop a solution for production line innovation.

Experts advise that industry demand for 5G frequencies should be closely monitored because there are both advantages and disadvantages to end users. An independent 5G network can be built in accordance with corporate demand and they can use communication services without being affected by surrounding traffic while ensuring easy data transaction and security. But there are also disadvantages in terms of cost.

By Lim Young-sin, Lee Seung-yoon and Minu Kim

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