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Home5G newsSouth Korean Telecom operators without 28GHz 5G spectrum

South Korean Telecom operators without 28GHz 5G spectrum

The South Korean government said on 18/11/2022 that it would cancel the spectrum allocated to local telcos for  5G network deployment, in light of the insufficient investment they have made in the area.

The unique move will result in KT along with LG Uplus lose their right to use the spectrum of 28GHz they won through an auction back in 2018.

SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile operator, will  lose its right to utilize the spectrum  totality unless it builds the 15000  radio stations that use the spectrum before the end of May 2023. Ministry of Science and ICT responsible for the decision, stated that the operators failed to construct the number of radio stations working on 28GHz that they had promised in 2018.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus won the right to utilize 3.5GHz as well as 28GHz frequencies in 2018 under the condition that they each of them construct 22,500 and 15,000 radio stations, respectively, for each spectrum. A review conducted  by the ministry in April of this year showed that all the operators completed the minimum requirements in the 3.5GHz spectrum, but none of them passed the minimum requirements for the spectrum of 28GHz.

In its statement of Friday morning, the minister stated that that the government has continuously advised the three companies to build additional radio stations to operate at 28GHz, but the three companies have not been able to meet the requirements. They haven’t even managed building the minimum  number of radio stations operating at 28GHz and did not offer smartphones supporing the this spectrum. 

The ministry highlighted that even though 28GHz covers a smaller area, it is utilized to spread traffic across the areas with high density of population and is necessary for the development of innovative applications like virtual and Augmented Reality.

Although both 3.5GHz and  28GHz are utilized for 5G network, there are some who believe that the millimeter wave spectrum of 28GHz can be considered “true 5G” since it’s the spectrum that provides the highest throughput in comparison with 4G LTE network. The ultra-high spectrum is shorter in range than sub-6GHz spectrum, and  they are both used along with 700 Mhz band to ensure coverage.

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