South Korea’s Plans for 6G

South Korea will lead the 6G market through investments and international standardization6G pilot projects in 2026 “We saw two years of digital transformation in two months” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a speech in May 2020. As it...
  • South Korea will lead the 6G market through investments and international standardization
  • 6G pilot projects in 2026

We saw two years of digital transformation in two months

said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a speech in May 2020. As it implies, the COVID-19 has indeed spurred the digital transition in every sector for both business and daily life.

Amid accelerated digitalization, the Korean government attempts to preemptively take a lead on the 6G mobile market by announcing “R&D Plan for future mobile telecommunications technology to lead the 6G mobile era.” This plan was presented at a meeting with science and technology related ministers on 6 Aug. 2020 and confirmed by the Prime Minister the same day. For implementation, the Korean government pledge to invest 142 million EUR (200 billion KRW) over 5 years from 2021 to secure high-risk basic 6G technology.

As a basic infrastructure technology, mobile telecommunication is a foundation for society and industry and has great impact on national competitiveness. Recognizing the potential growth of telecommunication technology converging with various industrial sectors, the Korean government officially launched full-scale preparation for 6G mobile technology.

The office of Science and Innovation in Seoul introduce the new strategy as presented in a Korean-language press release.

What’s the Plan?

The Ministry of Science & ICT (MSIT) prospects that 6G technology will provide 1 Tbsp. speed for data transmission over 10 Km, based on low-orbit satellite. This shall bring technological evolutions such as remote surgery, full-scale autonomous driving, and flying cars surpassing 5G and would reduce delay time to one tenth of 5G services.

The goal is to secure core technology for world-first 6G service commercialization and prepare to play a leading role in the 6G global market. MSIT expects that the initial 6G networks will be deployed in 2028, and commercialization of the technology will occur around 2030.

According to the plan, six strategic focus areas are,

►hyper-performance, ►hyper-bandwidth, ►hyper-precision, ►hyper-space, ►hyper-intelligence, ►hyper-trust.

Briefly examining the core strategies, they are

a) To preemptively acquire world class next generation telecommunication technology by strengthening technical competitiveness. The government will invest in more challenging and leading projects for development of core technology related to 6G and attempt to overcome technical limitations of 5G.

b) To lead international standardization for 6G and secure high-value standards patents. MSIT will work closely with Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) to secure standards critical patents. The government will aim for global standardization of Korean technologies to minimize uncertainty in competition.

c) To build favorable R&D and industrial environment to localize core components and equipment for 6G. The government will focus on validation of 6G core technologies and development of core components and equipment so the nation can locally develop them.

The government also aims to nurture experts in 6G by actively enhancing collaborations between companies and universities participating in R&D.

What’s next?

While actively promoting top talents for 6G and R&D in the domestic market, the Korean government aims to lead international standardization for 6G at global arenas such as the ITU.

“6G Upgrade pilot program” is expected to start from 2026 in the fields, digital healthcare, immersive contents, self-driving cars, smart cities, and smart factories.

Mobile communications infrastructure is core part of “Digital New Deal” which is one of two pillars of the Covid recovery program “Korean New Deal. Recently, Korean President Moon announced this as a national strategy to transform the country into a global pacesetter and create more job opportunities.  

We see growing investments and interests in 6G development, and digitalization. Keep your eyes open on this topic to explore collaboration opportunity with innovative actors in Korea! 

By: SeYeong Yoon Science and Innovation Advisor