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South Korea gets ready for initial 5G offerings in the coming months

South Korean carriers are getting ready to launch commercial 5G networks following trials in several metropolitan areas

South Korean mobile operator LG Uplus said it has completed the cell planning for the launch of 5G services in the country, The Korea Times reported.

LG Uplus said it plans to launch its 5G service in Seoul and its surrounding area as well as some metropolitan cities on December 1.

The cell planning enabled the Korean carrier to select specific locations for its 5G equipment in order to deploy the new network. Accurate network cell planning enables a company to reduce the time required to construct networks and improve service quality. LG Uplus said it cooperated with French company Forsk to carry out cell planning for its 5G network infrastructure.

Rival operator SK Telecom previously said that it aims to launch commercial 5G in the country in March 2019.

Last month, SK Telecom said it had completed the first call in a test bed using commercial 5G equipment provided by Samsung Electronics.

The carrier said the test utilized the 3GPP 5G New Radio Non-standalone (NSA) specification and commercial 5G NR equipment. The call took place at the company’s 5G testbed located in its Bundang office building.

SK Telecom and Samsung carried out the test by using 100-megahertz of bandwidth in the 3.5 GHz band.

Since 2014, the two companies have been jointly exploring and studying the potential of 5G to create ideal commercial scenarios using both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz. In June 2017, the companies carried out an interworking of 4G LTE and 5G NR utilizing 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum.

Meanwhile, KT previously announced plans to launch its commercial 5G network by March 2019. The operator’s 5G rollout will not be based on the fixed wireless access strategy currently being pushed forward by U.S. telco Verizon. Korea’s second largest telco had previously completed a 5G trial during the Winter Olympics Games, which took place in the city of PyeongChang in February.

During the PyeongChang Games, KT Corp. provided five 5G-driven visual technologies — sync view, interactive time slice, 360-degree virtual reality live broadcasting, omni-point view and a 5G connected bus.

In April this year, the three mobile operators announced plans to share the costs for the deployment of a nationwide 5G network in the Asian nation. The initiative reportedly will be carried out by SK Telecom, KT, LG Uplus as well as broadband operator SK Broadband. This shared infrastructure projects had the main aim of avoiding redundant investment in 5G deployments, according to government officials.

In June, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 megahertz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 blocks and 24 blocks.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT confirmed that operators can start using the 5G frequencies in December, with the 3.5 GHz band licenses covering a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.

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