This year’s Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea will no doubt attract the attention of sport fans around the world. But the global sports extravaganza is also providing a number of major communications companies with the opportunity to demonstrate—and drum up interest in—their emerging 5G wireless communications networks.
KT Corp., formerly Korea Telecom, is the official sponsor of the Winter Olympics, and the company has announced plans for test runs of wireless networking technologies that could deliver peak download rates as fast as 100 times as fast as today’s 4G wireless systems, with delays as short as 1 ms.
The KT 5G deployment is expected to provide digital communications within the 28-GHz band, which offers considerably more available bandwidth than frequencies below 6 GHz currently used in wireless communications systems. The problem with 28 GHz—and with millimeter-wave communications bands in general—is the difficulty of propagation through solid objects (such as buildings) and even through the air. By using hundreds of antenna elements and broadcast methods such as multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna configurations, some of the propagation problems of millimeter-wave frequencies can be overcome.
Competitors of KT Corp., including SK Telecom and LG U+, are preparing their own demonstrations of 5G equipment at the Winter Games. In addition, the South Korean government and the EU have teamed up to fund another trial, called 5G Champion, in which a broadband link between the Olympic Games and a 5G test bed in Finland will be established.
See “5G Goes for the Gold,” IEEE Spectrum, Vol. January 2018, p. 32.