The government is making more frequencies available and will allow enterprise players to apply for spectrum for the first time

Today, the South Korean government has announced that it will be making 5G spectrum directly available to non-telcos for the first time.

Currently, only the nation’s three major wireless telcos – SK Telecom, LG U+, and KT – have access to 5G spectrum, with allocations in the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands.

Now, the regulator will be making an additional 600MHz of 28GHz spectrum available, as well as a 100MHz of spectrum in the 4.7GHz band. The 28GHz spectrum will be divided into 12 blocks while the 4.7GHz will be divided into 10 blocks. 

Companies must apply for frequencies by October, with allocation expected to take place in November at the earliest. The licences will last for two to five years.

Naturally, the operators will be looking to gain additional spectrum from this allocation, but this process will also give non-telco organisations the option to purchase spectrum for the first time. This spectrum could be used to deploy specialised private networks in an industrial setting, such as smart factories or farms, and could be a major opportunity for the likes of Samsung, who could use the spectrum directly with their network technology.

Beyond the excitement surrounding potential industrial applications for 5G, this additional allocation comes at a time when the country’s major operators are coming under fire from customers for 5G speeds that are not living up to expectations. In the past, the telcos promised speeds 20-times faster than LTE, but have been failing to deliver using their 3.5GHz spectrum.

So far, the operators have been testing the higher band, mmWave spectrum for industrial and business applications, but additional spectrum allocation should allow them to move towards consumer commercialisation. The use of mmWave 5G should ultimately allow them to easily surpass the promised speeds. 


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