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Communications of the ACM

East Asia and Oceania Region special section: Big trends

5G Commercialization and Trials in Korea

5G on Republic of Korea flag, illustration

Credit: Getty Images

Since Korea has a limited ICT R&D fund compared to other IT global countries, its strategy was essential to achieve its global competence in each generation of mobile communication. Just after the rollout of the world's first 5G service, the government took the next step by announcing the 5G + strategy to promote the 5G application to a wide-ranging industry and create a sustainable 5G ecosystem leading to new growth engines. In this article, we focus on the government-industry 5G collaborations, including the R&D roadmap and promotion to the 5G commercialization, the global collaboration, the first 5G experience, and 5G vertical trials to make the 5G-enabled industrial transformation take place in Korea.

The development of an electronic digital switching system called TDX in the 1980s, the world's first CDMA mobile service in the 1990s, and the nationwide wired and mobile broad Internet networks in the 2000s are the key advances that made it possible for Korean consumers to easily adopt new technologies such as LTE and 5G. In 2018, the handset penetration rate of South Korea was similar to western Europe, where LTE adaption was 84% with 99.95% coverage and 65Mbps downlink capacity.4 Data consumption has been stagnant since 2018, but it has now increased to around 25GB/month after 5G commercialization, which is more than 2.5 times over LTE.


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