We want to be first to 6G, South Korea government plan confirms
The South Korean government has set out its plan to seize global leadership of 6G. As befits the 5G pioneer, it also aims to be the first to 6G, affirming 2028 as its target start date, with key pre-6G technologies ready by 2026.
Lee Jong-ho, Minister for Science and ICT (MSIT), unveiled the K-Network 2030 plan on Monday, calling for South Korean tech firms to lead the way in developing world-class 6G technologies and software-based networks. "We will preemptively invest in next-generation network technologies such as 6G, open RAN [radio access network], and low-orbit satellite based on public-private cooperation," Lee said.
The government will encourage local companies to produce 6G materials and equipment and develop open RAN, official news service Yonhap reported. The plan calls on South Korean firms to "secure leadership in standards" by demonstrating pre-6G technology in 2026 in areas such as "extreme MIMO technology" in upper mid spectrum bands.
It also seeks to develop AI-based cloud native core network technology built on South Korean AI chips and to test launch its first low-orbit communication satellite in 2027. Additionally, the ministry identified the need to boost "the weak network software capabilities" of domestic SME network equipment manufacturers, saying it wants to develop an open RAN ecosystem for local firms.
$481 million for 6G core R&D
Next year it will establish a testing and verification system for software-based network equipment.
While the plan is big on ambition, it is light on details. Lee did not say how it would relate to the 6G research partnership with the US the ministry announced last June. He also did not offer any specifics on how these new goals will be achieved. The ministry has not allocated any fresh funding other than 625 billion Korean won (US$481.0 million) for what it says is a feasibility study into core 6G R&D.
As in the past, the heavy lifting will be carried out by the domestic industry, either through their own commercial projects or public-private partnerships (PPP).
Lee presented the plan at the Samsung Electronics R&D campus in Seoul, with guests from Samsung, LG Electronics, the three mobile operators, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), and the Korea Network Industry Association in attendance.
According to the Economic Daily, Samsung Electronics, LG and ETRI shared business plans related to 6G and open RAN.
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— Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, special to Light Reading