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South Korean telecom KT (formerly Korea Telecom) is rolling out its 5G network services to a range of large indoor spaces, according to ZDNet. The company will use specialized hardware to enable access to its networks in buildings like train stations and airports, where initial 5G signals aren’t penetrating.
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Here’s what it means: KT is utilizing 5G repeaters in the large indoor spaces where it hasn’t been able to deliver 5G, which could be a key differentiator for the company in these early days of 5G.
Network operators around the world are still grappling with deploying 5G networks indoors. 5G networks can struggle to penetrate walls due to the frequency of the radio waves used. While this is a more pressing issue with millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G networks, it’s also an issue with the mid-band spectrum that KT and its South Korean competitors primarily employ.
KT has been working to head off this problem since 2018 — in advance of the country’s 5G launch — and has developed 5G-signal repeater hardware specifically geared for use in buildings. As the first telecom to commercialize the tech, KT can offer stronger 5G signals to customers who operate large, crowded facilities and would otherwise struggle to utilize a 5G network.
KT won’t be working wholly on its own, though — it’s collaborating with competitors SK Telecom and LG Uplus to utilize their network base infrastructures to deploy these indoor networks. The initial rollout will cover 119 buildings, with KT managing the deployment in 80% of them. By year-end, KT plans to expand coverage to 1,000 buildings.
The bigger picture: Telecoms and network partners rolling out 5G networks should closely watch KT’s 5G moves — and those of the South Korean market at large — to guide their own 5G deployments.
Operators need to make tools like 5G repeaters a part of their deployment strategies, as they enable them to serve larger enterprise customers and get their networks into more spaces. This is even more important for US telecoms like AT&T and Verizon, as early US 5G networks rely more heavily on mmWave signals than KT’s networks.
Global players should look to South Korean telecoms for insight into what strategies and tools are most effective when it comes to rolling out 5G networks. South Korea’s telecoms have moved far ahead of operators in other markets with a widescale deployment of 5G and boast more than 1 million customers to date.
000By the end of 2019, 90% of the country will likely be covered by 5G signals, and 5G connections are expected to account for 59% of all mobile subscriptions by 2025.
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