Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AI robot becomes first subscriber on KT 5G network

Steve Rogerson
December 19, 2018



An AI-equipped robot called Lota has become the first subscriber for Korea Telecom’s just launched 5G network commercial service. Lota will guide visitors through the Seoul Sky Observatory, which sits on top of the landmark 123-storey, 555m-high Lotte World Tower in eastern Seoul.
 
This month, KT held a ceremony to commemorate the start of its next-generation wireless service at its network control centre in Gwacheon, south of Seoul. Chairman Hwang Chang-Gyu and other senior officials attended the ceremony, including Oh Sung-Mok, head of the network group, and Lee Pil-Jae, who heads the marketing group.
 
The telco plans to expand into new businesses with more pilot clients, using intelligent machines and business-to-business operators. It selected an AI robot as its first customer to symbolise its 5G network service for providing a platform for innovation across the spectrums of business and people's livelihoods.
 
In a note to employees, Hwang Chang-Gyu reaffirmed the company's vision to continue developing an intelligent platform for innovation in the 5G era.
 
KT deployed the first phase of its 5G network in late November. The service has begun in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, in the country's most populated, major metropolitan cities outside Seoul, and in isolated areas including Jeju, Ulleung and Dok islands.
 
The plan is to expand the nationwide 5G network to 24 major cities, key transport routes such as expressways, subways, high-speed railways, large universities and neighbourhood shopping areas. The next phase of the network will provide seamless 5G coverage through KT's latest network technology and innovation.
 
Because of KT's internet backbone with full mesh topology and edge communication centres based on control and user plane separation (CUPS) technology, the company says its 5G service with low latency has advantages over other carriers.
 
Full mesh topology means every node in the network has a circuit connection to every other node. CUPS is an architecture enhancement technology for standalone (SA)-based networks of 3GPP standards.
 
The first customer service available on KT's 5G network is 10Gbyte of data for a mobile hotspot terminal at a monthly rate of 49,500 won, the same rate applied to Lota. A smartphone with a mobile hotspot function provides an internet connection for other mobile devices, such as notebook computers.
 
"KT has ushered in the 5G era by launching commercial 5G service on our 5G network across the country, and we will do our best to extend our coverage to every nook and cranny of the most remote mountain areas and islands, as well as urban cores," Oh Sung-Mok said. "We will provide the best quality 5G service to our clients by continuing to develop cutting-edge technologies."
 
After demonstrating the world's first 5G trial services during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in February this year, the company unveiled the 5G Open Lab in September to promote industrial collaborations with local and international business partners.
 
KT is sharing its expertise in 5G with the rest of the world to accelerate the commercialisation of next-generation wireless connectivity. In August, the ITU approved KT's plan for 5G trial services, which include sync view, 360-degree virtual reality live streaming and omni point view. These technologies were showcased in Pyeongchang as an international standard.
 
KT announced a plan in September to focus on developing five key areas – smart cities, smart factories, connected cars, 5G media and the 5G cloud. The goal of the company is to provide services for its mobile users. Notably, the company is working with partners in Korea and around the world, such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, Posco, Intel, Ericsson, Nvidia and Qualcomm.
 
A commercial 5G network in South Korea is expected to create at least 30.3 trillion won in socioeconomic value in 2025, 1.5 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, according to a report released in July by the KT Economic & Management Research Institute. The report forecasts that number will increase to at least 47.8 trillion won, which is 2.1 per cent of the GDP, by 2030.