SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s ICT ministry said Tuesday it will invest 165.5 billion won (US$150 million) this year to develop new business-focused technology that incorporates 5G, such as self-driving cars and virtual reality (VR) services, in a move to boost the country’s use of the latest generation network.
While local 5G users have rapidly grown since the network’s commercialization in April 2019, surpassing the 10 million mark in November last year, business applications of the high-speed network mostly remain in testing.
The Ministry of Science and ICT said it aims to speed up their development by spending 88.4 billion won on developing infrastructure for self-driving cars and 45 billion won on VR and augmented reality services.
It will use the rest of the amount in developing 5G technology for smart factories, smart cities and digital health care services.
South Korea sees the latest generation network as a major part of its digital New Deal program, which targets to create over 900,000 jobs by spending 58.2 trillion won by 2025.
The ICT ministry added that it targets to establish 5G coverage in 85 cities across the country this year and plans for telecom operators to share their 5G networks in remote coastal and farm towns to reach nationwide 5G coverage next year.
The ministry also plans to provide 5G frequency bands to companies other than telecom operators this year to spur more investment in 5G services.
South Korea has so far allocated 28 gigahertz (GHz) and 3.5 GHz bands for 5G operation only to the country’s three major telecom operators — SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp.
The ministry said it will distribute 600 megahertz of bandwidth between 28.9 GHz to 29.5 GHz in the first half of this year to other companies that seek to operate 5G services.
The ministry added that it is considering allocating additional bandwidth in the sub-6 GHz range for non-telecom operators.