KT targets 5G rollout for 2018 Winter Olympics

Korean mobile operator KT says it will be conducting 5G trials with a view to launching a live service ready for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, being hosted in the Korean city of Pyeongchang.

Speaking at the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam, KT’s Jae Yoon Park presented the operator’s 5G vision and enabling strategy to achieve next generation cellular connectivity. He began with a reference to Kennedy’s address to congress in 1961, and suggested that reaching 5G will be as big an achievement as putting a man on the moon. Park gave a technological and strategic overview of KT’s 5G roadmap, and said a revolution is required in order to realise the full potential of a 5G era.

“5G evolution alone based on LTE is not going to realise its own potential, a revolution based on new industry architecture, a new radio access technology is required,” he said. “KT will continually evolve its network and develop key technologies, like massive MIMO with beamforming, as well as virtualization such as vRAN, SDN and NFV.”

Park then expanded on the spectrum requirements of 5G, and stressed the significance of MIMO and beamforming to help cope.

“Coverage should be one of the main concerns, as well as throughput, latency and capacity,” he said.  “It is speculated that 5G will utilise ultra-high frequencies beyond 6GHz. Massive MIMO and beamforming will be mandatory.”

He then went on to confirm that KT is looking to launch 5G in time for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, a target he announced will be a world-first.

“We’re trialling 5G network across Seoul, Pyeongchang, Jeongseon, Bogwang and Incheon International airport, using our revolution versus evolution model,” he said. “We believe Pyeongchang 2018 will be the first 5G Olympic Games ever.”

Park concluded his keynote address by identifying three core areas of digital services for the games, all of which will be enabled by 5G but which current LTE infrastructure would not be able to support. He cited the mega-speeds promised by 5G as the key enabler.

“There are three major categories of the 5G service: interactive broadcast, enhanced experience and smart operations. Using new radio technologies, we’ll be able to get download peak rates of more than 10Gbs.”

Last week, KT launched its GiGA-LTE service, capable of mobile download speeds of more than 1Gbps it claims, which would make it the fastest commercial LTE network in the world.

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