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[Herald Interview] Korea at forefront of innovation, leadership: GSMA execs

July 2, 2023 - 15:38 By Jie Ye-eun
John Hoffman, CEO and director of GSMA Limited, speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at Kerry Hotel Pudong in Shanghai, Thursday. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

SHANGHAI -- Top executives of GSMA, the host of the Mobile World Congress, said South Korea is a perfect place to learn about the digital transformation since it has been at the forefront of technological innovation and leadership.

“Korea was one of the very first (countries) to launch 5G (network) services. It's got such vibrant operators and a technology ecosystem that are globally known and respected,” John Hoffman, CEO and director at GSMA Limited, said in an interview with The Korea Herald in Shanghai, Thursday.

Despite the relatively small size of the country, South Korea’s technological developments are quite remarkable, thanks to the perfect setup of “strong research in academia, strong government backing, strong industry players and a strong startup scene,” GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said.

“SK Telecom has already sold its metaverse platform to other operators. … Samsung (Electronics) was traditionally known as a device manufacturer, but it is increasingly getting more of a share in the infrastructure side through its Open RAN deployments,” the CTO said.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at Kerry Hotel Pudong in Shanghai, Thursday. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

With discussions heating up for sixth-generation network services, the GSMA has decided to hold its flagship global leadership conference, the Mobile 360, in Seoul in September for the first time. So far, Singapore has been the key destination for the M360 APAC, the Asia-Pacific leg of the conference.

This year’s M360 APAC will follow M360 Eurasia in Baku and M360 Latin America in Mexico City. It brings together government and mobile industry leaders to define the strategy and policy for the next generation of digital nations. KT Corp. is the host sponsor of the upcoming event.

Although the specific agenda has not yet been decided, the CEO hinted that major topics, including artificial intelligence, trust and security, 5G acceleration and digital inclusion, will be discussed there with enhanced 5G connectivity and huge digital ambitions.

Korea is “much at the forefront of wanting to do this program” with many industry ecosystem players, he said.

Sinclair strongly agreed and said, “Korea is super strong in standardization and always clear in their voice because of its very strong backing from both government and industry.”

The CTO further expected Korea to present a strong voice in 6G at the upcoming conference, while assuming the country will be one of the first to deploy related services.

"I'm looking forward to learning as much (as possible) from Korea. ... (The upcoming M360 APAC) is going to be a great opportunity for others from around the region and the world to learn and see what Korea is doing," Hoffman said.