The world’s first commercial, standards-based 5G network went live over the weekend in parts of Seoul and the area surrounding the capital, according to Yonhap News Agency. The network is operated by South Korea’s leading fixed-line services provider KT, SK Telecom, the country’s largest wireless carrier; and LG U+, a smaller wireless carrier.
SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho made the first call using a Samsung 5G prototype over the commercial 5G network, which went live in 13 cities. Since there are no consumer handsets available, the first customer will be a smart factory artificial intelligence solution.
“However, kudos to SK Telecom for racing ahead with the development of 5G for its domestic market strategy, it’s one heck of an accomplishment,” wrote Guy Daniels of TelecomTV. “Whilst it appears that we can’t get enough of these ‘5G Firsts,’ and it all helps to rally the industry and build up the excitement around 5G, none of it really matters yet. What matters is commercial acceptance and business success. We are all going to have to wait quite a lot longer before we know the answer.”
The first customer, an auto parts company, plans to use the technology to verify product quality. Using high-resolution, multi-angle photographs of the parts on the conveyor belts that are transmitted to the cloud server over 5G, an artificial intelligence application instantly scans the photos to check for defects, according to the article in TelecomTV.
5G Technology the Fruit of an Alliance
To accelerate the development of next-generation wireless technology, the three wireless carriers agreed last summer to work together to commercialize 5G networks during a meeting with a government minister Yoo Young-min.
“It is important for mobile carriers to avoid heated competition for the title of world’s ‘first’ 5G service provider in order for South Korea to become a nation that can commercialize the 5G service for the first time in the world,” Yoo said.
Robots are the First 5G Use Case for KT
Yonhap reported that KT’s first commercial 5G customer is a robot named ROTA, and the 5G service for individual customers will begin in March of next year.
“The fact a robot was selected as the first subscriber of 5G is a sign that KT aims to provide a new kind of value by infusing the latest technology, such artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things,” KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu said.
And More Robots…
Helsinki Airport became the first airport to employ 5G technology this week when Stockholm-based telecom operator Telia launched a next generation Nokia network. Together with Finnish airport operator Finavia, Telia introduced a 5G-powered autonomous robot, which will carry out service tasks around the terminals.
“The robot can deliver a real-time video stream from the terminal area to monitor activity in the aree through remote or autonomous control. The robot can also guide passengers in the terminal, according to Heikki Koski, chief digital officer, Finavia.
The data transmission and control of the robot is carried over a 5G base station at the airport. utilizing the 28 GHz frequency band.
”5G will start with enterprise customers, especially for industrial automation and remote control. The low-latency connection and massive capacity of 5G will serve the airport well with its masses of passengers and data, and with the focus on security and fluency of services,” said 5G Program Director Janne Koistinen, Telia Finland.
Meanwhile in Incheon
A construction equipment company, Doosan Infracore, plans to use technology developed in concert with LG U+ that uses 5G to remotely control heavy machinery. The technology uses real-time video and a three-dimensional machine guidance system.
The technology was demonstrated recently to remotely control an excavator in Incheon, Korea, from Shanghai, China.
During the demonstration, a low-latency image transmitter transmitted compressed image data shot by five cameras mounted on an excavator in Incheon to the monitors installed in the remote control station in Shanghai, according to press release by Doosan Infracore.
An operator at the Shanghai station remotely controlled the Incheon excavator, while looking at the images being transmitted onto the monitors in real time, as if operating the equipment nearby at the same construction site. At the same time, Doosan Infracore’s “3D Machine Guidance” system measured the distance and depth of the excavation work collected from the sensors installed on the excavator and then provided three-dimensional information to the excavator operator.
And now for the Humans
Humans should get into the act some time in the first half of 2019, as companies bring the first commercial 5G smartphones to market. Verizon and Samsung will unveil a proof of concept, at the annual Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui this week, powered by the upcoming flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform with the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements.
AT&T announced today that it plans to add a 5G smartphone from Samsung to its mobile 5G device lineup in the first half of 2019. This is the second mobile 5G device has announced. In October, AT&T introduced world’s first standards-based millimeter-wave mobile 5G Device, the NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which will be available exclusively on the AT&T Mobile 5G Network.