SK Telecom, Nokia in 5G cooperation deal

SK Telecom has announced it has entered into an agreement with Nokia to collaborate on developing 5G network technologies. The pact was sealed with a memorandum of understanding, a second such agreement between the Korean telco and the Finnish kit vendor.

The two partners pledged to jointly develop 5G network technologies, including gigabit-level data transmission technology and next-generation cloud base-stations.

Previously, SK Telecom and Nokia signed an agreement in June 2014 to collaborate on developing virtualisation, software-based network establishment and cloud-based network management technologies. This collaboration ended in the development of what the two claimed is the world’s first base-station virtaulisation technology, the Cloud vRAN.

Apparently to make good on a promise written in the latest MoU to “make all-out efforts” (as the two firms put it) to demonstrate 5G in 2018, SK Telecom said they will together with Nokia establish a dedicated test-bed in the telco’s R&D centre in Bundang, Seoul.

This is in line with Nokia’s statement at its capital markets day in November, where CEO Rajeev Suri said: “We expect the first pre-standard 5G trials in Korea by 2018 – and we will be there.”

SK Telecom said the MoU involves the development of cmWave/mmWave 5G technology, which uses wideband spectrum resources in ‘ultra-high’ frequencies of 6.5GHz* and above.

“By joining hands with Nokia, we expect to accelerate our speeds toward the development of core 5G technologies,” Choi Jin-sung, EVP and Head of Corporate R&D Center said.

“Envisioning an era where all things and people are organically connected, SK Telecom will continue to bring innovative changes to the mobile network structure.”

“The future of mobile telecommunications network will not only connect people, but things as well,” Hossien Moiin, Head of Technology and Innovation at Nokia said. “In the end, 5G will further extend human potential through advanced telecommunications technologies.

“Together with SK Telecom, Nokia will make efforts to allow diverse futuristic services to be efficiently provided through 5G technologies.”

It is good operators and vendors are collaborating to advance future technologies, and lately there has been a lot of talk of the role the higher frequencies of 6GHz and above could play in the next generation. However, no-one knows as of yet what 5G will be and SK Telecom and Nokia seem to also emphasize that they endeavour to be able to demonstrate the technology by 2018. Stress on the word endeavour.

*Since first publishing, a spokesperson for SK Telecom has contacted to clarify that despite earlier communication from the telco showing 6GHz and above, the correct band is actually 6.5GHz and above.


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