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[MWC 2022] Korean telcos set sight on groundbreaking 5G network tech

Feb. 22, 2022 - 12:29 By Son Ji-hyoung
SK Telecom employees pose for a photo while conducting research on virtual radio access network technologies. (SK Telecom)
The chiefs of all three major telecommunication firms in South Korea -- KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus -- are poised to attend the forthcoming tech event Mobile World Congress 2022 onsite in Barcelona, Spain, where next-generation network technologies are set to take center stage.

At the MWC 2022, which runs from Feb. 28 to March 3, Korean telcos will showcase how they have shifted gears in their radio access network technology. This shift has enabled mobile handsets to be connected with a core network to improve flexibility, reduce costs and allow seeking of vendor diversity in an ecosystem. These are all considered key elements in their 5G roadmaps.

SK Telecom will present its use cases and collaborations for its virtual radio access network (vRAN) with partners such as Korea-based Samsung Electronics, as well as Nordic telcos Ericsson and Nokia. Its exhibit will be located in the Fira Gran Via, an MWC venue.

The vRAN virtualizes the baseband unit, a device transporting a baseband frequency through optical fibers composed of central units and distributed units. Under the new infrastructure, the baseband unit is no longer hardware-based. A multi-vendor environment will be supported by increased equipment interoperability.

There will be more room for Korean small- and mid-sized network equipment providers to join the 5G ecosystem once vRAN technology becomes mainstream, Park Jong-kwan, vice president and head of Infra Tech, SK Telecom, said in a statement.

SK Telecom Chief Executive Officer Ryu Young-sang will attend the 792 square-meter exhibition booth, which would also give visitors a glimpse of Korea‘s first homegrown artificial intelligence chip Sapeon. It will also showcase the firm’s connected intelligence-powered urban air mobility vessels and metaverse functionalities.

Alongside SK Telecom, LG Uplus CEO Hwang Hyeon-sik will also attend the MWC 2022 venue to meet representatives of Amazon, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and Nokia to explore 5G collaboration opportunities.

LG Uplus said in a statement that their main focus lies in the open radio access network (O-RAN) ecosystem and 5G infrastructure migration to cloud. In particular, O-RAN architecture will allow telecom carriers to deploy the fully open and interoperable nature of the RAN by embracing different vendors in the ecosystem.

Meanwhile, KT’s exhibition at MWC 2022 will focus on its AI solutions and robot technologies.

One of KT‘s AI use cases will be designed to monitor fibic base stations to detect abnormalities or failures and respond to them automatically. Also, KT will showcase how AI is applied to calculate traffic conditions and timing for traffic signals, analyze closed-circuit camera clips, and dissect choreography.

KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo will attend MWC 2022 as a board member of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), a host of the event.

All three major telco carriers SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT are operator members of the O-RAN Alliance.