South Korea is expected to become a leader in promising technologies such as the sixth-generation telecommunications network (6G) and artificial intelligence (AI), according to executives from the GSM Association (GSMA), a UK-based mobile industry nonprofit. In an interview with The Korea Herald, GSMA APAC head Julian Gorman highlighted Korea’s ambition to export 5G and predicted a similar ambition in 6G.
South Korea became the first country to commercialize 5G services globally in April 2019, with a penetration rate of over 50 percent within five years. Gorman praised Korea for its innovative leadership and organizational DNA in technological advancements. However, there is public discontent regarding the quality of 5G services, including speed falling short of expectations. Gorman recognized these issues as “pioneer challenges” and stated that it will take more time to fully advance and improve 5G technology.
During the two-day M360 APAC conference in Seoul, GSMA executives signed a memorandum of understanding with the 6G Forum, an industry-academia-research consultative body focused on preparing for the commercialization of 6G services. Gorman expressed confidence that Korea will be at the leading edge of network usage and expects mobile operators and the government to actively participate in the launch of new use cases.
South Korea has secured spectrum bands for the 5G network, including the 3.5 gigahertz and 28 gigahertz bands. However, the Ministry of ICT canceled the license for the new 28 GHz spectrum owned by SK Telecom in May due to a lack of investment. GSMA Chief Regulatory Officer John Giusti encouraged the government to continue leading in applications related to these spectrum bands.
Regarding AI adoption, the European Union introduced comprehensive AI laws in June. Korea lags behind in adopting regulations but remains technologically advanced. GSMA highlighted the importance of integrating ethics into AI policies through active discussions with governments and organizations.
The network usage fee debate is another ongoing issue globally and in Korea. GSMA advocates for big tech companies to share the cost of network investment due to their global user base generating significant traffic. The organization has been actively engaging in discussions and consultations regarding network usage fees.
South Korea has the potential to lead in 6G and AI technologies, but challenges such as improving 5G services, adopting AI regulations, and resolving the network usage fee debate need to be addressed.