South Korea to spend £290 million on 5G land grab

Sod the standards, Seoul wants a working network by 2018


South Korea has become the latest Asian nation to pledge its future to fifth-generation wireless networks, aka 5G, with Seoul set to stump up 500 billion won (£292m) to build a super-ultra-mega-fast network by 2020.

Keen to maintain the country’s position at the apex of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning claimed that a “5G network” would be ready for testing by 2018 and full commercial roll-out in 2020, according to Yonhap.

Said network will apparently offer speeds 1,000 faster than current LTE technology, boosting the South Korean economy and helping the nation grab 20 per cent of the global mobile communications equipment market by 2020, it added.

There are, of course, not insignificant barriers to this lofty aim.

Samsung earlier this year made headlines around the world after claiming to have made a “5G breakthrough” by sending a signal two kilometres through the air over the 28Ghz radio band.

As pointed out by your hard-working El Reg hacks at the time, however, the radio technology demoed by the South Korean giant was “only one piece of a phone network jigsaw”.

In short, there is no such thing at the moment as 5G – no unified standards body, no agreement on specs, roadmaps or the rest. In fact, The Reg has even gone further to argue there will almost certainly never be a 5G mobile broadband network.

That said, a number of countries and companies are researching technologies which could form the basis of whatever comes after LTE-Advanced.

Among these are Japanese giant NTT Docomo, which wants to have some kind of network up and running by the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and Huawei, which last month announced it was pumping $600m into research over the next five years.

On a smaller scale, Surrey University is using £11.6m in UK government cash and £24m from the industry to fund a 5G Innovation Centre. ®

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