2014

Korea starts 5G implementation plan

Move over, LTE. 5G is coming.

It’s an understatement to say that smartphones are everywhere in Korea. As a fellow blogger noted in 3 Funny Things about K-Dramas, even the poorest character would have the latest smartphone. It’s not that unrealistic actually, with Korea boasting a 97.7% saturation rate (smartphones) amongst 18-24 year olds.

That being said, it is only with muted surprise that I learned about the 5G implementation plan South Korea has put into motion. $1.5 billion is being injected to upgrade the current infrastructure to enable the faster connections. How much faster? A memorable sentence wraps it up nicely: “5G.. means you can download a whole movie in one second.” In other words, 1000 times faster than the current 4G. South Korea’s MEST (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) plans to have a trial network in place by 2017 and a fully functional network by 2020.

So the government is on board, what about the telecommunication companies? 5G tests by Samsung last year successfully produced a 1Gbps signal. This changed the old opinion – that beyond 4G data speeds were “un-doable” – and the race to develop the technology needed heated up as a result. If Samsung managed to develop the technology for its smartphones in sync with the government, an advantage for the few following years is certain.

But even if the companies are on board, the content producers may not be due to the high costs. The government and huge telecommunication companies – sure. But is ie. Netflix going to upgrade its speeds to accommodate 5G? That is doubtful. Don’t forget that even if receiving speeds are up, sending speeds depend on the company.

Another widespread concern is energy consumption. 1Gbps speeds will be extremely energy-consuming unless there is some way to up the efficiency of existing equipment. On a global scale, 5G remains out of reach for many countries. Korea is a special case for its high and dense population – upgrades are cheaper but profitable.

Despite the concerns, people remain very positive about this new development. I may have to move to Korea if it does happen. ;)

     Jung Joon Young doing his LTE dance. Credit: young-rocker.tumblr.com, WGM

Read more at: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/22/tech/mobile/south-korea-5g/

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