SK Telecom, China Unicom form 5G, roaming and startup pact

South Korea’s SK Telecom and China Unicom have signed an official memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together on business and technology developments. The pact covers a variety of technologies and markets, including 5G, international roaming, equipment and nurturing content creating start-ups and service partners.

The two companies plan to share information and conduct joint studies to standardise and commercialise 5G networks. They will also jointly launch competitive roaming services as the tourism between their respective host nations increases and subscribers seek more competitive offerings form their mobile operators. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, a total of 6.13 million Chinese visited Korea in 2014, while 4.18 million Koreans visited China in the same year.

Competitive offers on roaming charges could become a deal breaker for telcos in the coming years, according to Jang Dong-hyun, President and CEO of SK Telecom. “The understanding means SK Telecom and China Unicom will be able to offer differentiated and innovative services to customers,” said Dong-hyun.

The two telcos will also collaborate on other new growth businesses, such as the development and delivery of over the top (OTT) content for mobile networks. The two companies will share information on their technology platforms, with a view to improving the delivery of platform-related products and services and OTT entertainment and news services. SK Telecom said it expects to use the opportunity to introduce its technology to the Chinese market.

The two telcos will share their knowhow in nurturing ventures and startups in their respective countries and will create a cooperative venture incubator programme that will find talent and nurse it through the processes of seed funding and product development.

“We will continue to make efforts to develop new joint business opportunities,” said Dong-hyun, “this will grow both companies and contribute to the economic development of Korea and China.”

The MOU signing ceremony took place at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel located in Cape Town, South Africa, venue of the latest GSMA Board Meeting. It was attended by SK Telecom CEO Dong-hyun and China Unicom President Lu Yimin.

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