SK Telecom moves closer to 5G ecosystem in Korea

SK Telecom has developed new relay technologies for 5G networks after its six-month-long collaboration with local partners. This is a successful case of collaboration, where an idea proposed by SK Telecom has been realized by highly capable local players, adding momentum to domestic efforts to build a 5G ecosystem in Korea.

The partners, including High Gain Antenna and SK Telecom’s subsidiary SK Telesys, have been deeply involved in culminating the development of new relay technologies, which will enable network operators to guarantee the stability of communications services even in the ultra-high frequency bands of 5G networks, and successfully applied it to the trial network.

In 5G networks, relay technology will help extend radio range by amplifying wireless signals between base stations and devices. It will enable network operators to cover radio shadow areas and offer wide coverage for 5G services.

In the 28 GHz band, a candidate for 5G, radio waves are more likely to move in straight lines and more unlikely to circumvent obstacles due to the nature of ultra-high frequencies. Therefore, relay technology is critical to the seamless delivery of 5G services.

The new 5G relay technologies jointly developed by SK Telecom and local partners can be classified into three techniques: the flat framing, in which radio waves are reflected at right angles towards both sides; the convex mirroring, in which radio waves are reflected outwards as if they hit a convex mirror; and the multi-beam generation & amplification, in which a multiple number of radio waves are aggregated and amplified.

Among the techniques, SK Telecom chose to apply the multi-beam generation & amplification technique to its 5G trial network in Gangnam, Korea only to achieve three times wider coverage than that of a single beam. While the existing single beam relay repeater covers 70 meters in diagram, the company is now able to extend the coverage to 200 meters in diagram with a new relay repeater implementing the multi-beam generation & amplification technique.

This is a clear indication that SK Telecom now adds unique 5G relay technology to its technical capabilities for the earlier 5G rollout. The company has already proven wider coverage in its 5G trial networks in Gangnam and Bundang, Korea by applying a new relay repeater which can cover both indoor and outdoor environments.

A success from its six-month-long collaboration with local partners will add momentum to the nation’s effort to build a 5G ecosystem

The whole journey started from SK Telecom’s need for new relay technology considering the nature of ultra-high frequencies to guarantee the stability of 5G services. Engineers dedicated to 5G at SK Telecom have found the three ideas – flat framing, convex mirroring, and multi-beam generation & amplification. Then, the collaboration with the vendors began in May.

Among the partners engaged in the collaboration, High Gain Antenna developed technologies to implement the flat framing and convex mirroring techniques, while SK Telesys successfully realized the concept of multi-beam generation & amplification. SK Telecom has worked with the two vendors for the past six months and demonstrated these techniques in its 5G trial networks in the company’s Bundang office and two dense urban areas in Seoul.

This successful collaboration sends a good signal to the industry as it has extended potential partners for 5G technology from the world’s big vendors to local communications equipment companies. It will open the door of a 5G ecosystem to local vendors and help them to gain a competitive edge.

SK Telecom will continue to collaborate with highly competitive local vendors who are dedicated to developing new 5G technologies at the company’s 5G Innovation Center to add to the list of its local partners.

Meanwhile, at the GSMA Seoul Open Day, SK Telecom introduced its plans for 5G infrastructure and convergence services and its newly developed 5G relay technology. The GSMA Seoul Open Day is an annual conference hosted by GSMA to develop discussions with both local and international ICT companies.

“The newly developed 5G relay technology is a great example of collaboration between SK Telecom and local vendors,” said Park Jin-hyo, Head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom. “We will continue to put a focus on open and collaboration to build a 5G ecosystem for local vendors in Korea.”

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