Korea Telecom executive Lee Dong-myeon recently spoke with AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan about the two companies working together on the development and rollout of 5G technologies. They met up at Korea Telecom’s Technology and Convergence Center in Seoul, South Korea, but the details of what they spoke about were not revealed as of this writing. Korea Telecom is already hard at work developing and building out a preliminary 5G network, and reportedly plans to show it off at 2018’s Winter Olympics, set to take place in South Korea’s Pyeongchang province. AT&T is said to start offering its own take on pre-standard 5G in select markets later in that same year under the name of Network 3.0 Indigo.
While Korea Telecom is the local leader in the development of 5G and stands to roll out its network before competitors, AT&T boasts a distinct advantage in software-defined networking and network function virtualization, two key technologies that will allow traditional network equipment to host 4.9G networks with minimal conversion, and eventually be easily made over into 5G stations. These two technological approaches are compatible with virtually any network and network equipment worldwide, making it easy for Korea Telecom to adapt it to its own equipment. If the two are working together, it could mean a number of things for worldwide 5G development. One of the most likely scenarios would be the two offering each other financial and logistical aid during development and deployment, though virtualized joint networking and even the development of a cross-compatible 5G sub-standard are also quite possible.
Korea Telecom is not working exclusively with AT&T on 5G development; it is also collaborating with Verizon and even managed to show the fruits of the pair’s labor recently when the world’s first hologram call was completed over a test 5G connection with Verizon’s help. Verizon, meanwhile, managed to get a 1.6Gbps network live in field testing at the recent Indy 500 event in Indianapolis. This sort of globetrotting approach seems to be defining the development of 5G. Worldwide players like Nokia and Ericsson are signing early 5G development, testing, and deployment deals with carriers worldwide, which is another factor that could lead to a cross-compatible standard for commercial 5G.