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The Peninsula

Public-Private Sector Cooperation in Global Race for 6G

Published July 22, 2020
Category: South Korea

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • Samsung Electronics embarked on initial research into the sixth-generation (6G) telecommunications network by launching the Advanced Communications Research Center.
  • Other private and public sectors are cooperating to advance research into 6G – most notably, LG Electronics is working with the state science school Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST); and SK Telecom and Samsung have agreed to push for joint research in 6G evolution technologies.
  • A state-sponsored preliminary feasibility study will be carried out to develop core technologies for the commercialization of 6G in 2028, ahead of China.

Implications: The South Korean public and private sectors cooperate to amplify their investments when pursuing first-mover advantage on the global stage. The country’s leading corporations are collaborating with not only one another, but also elite public research institutions like KAIST. The Korean government’s offer to sponsor feasibility studies will likely be followed up with bids for public projects that aim to demonstrate the applicability of the new technology. Korea sees this collaborative environment as a vehicle to accelerate the development of a 6G network in the face of better-resourced or technologically-sophisticated competitors abroad.

Context: Public-Private cooperation was a model that yielded dividends in South Korea’s pursuit of 5G commercialization, which was accomplished ahead of any other market in 2019. Seoul had created incentives for private sector innovators by not only providing tax credits but also creating demand for the application of new technology in public projects such as an emergency response system. However, as National Bureau of Asian Research Senior Advisor Clara Gillispie underscored, South Korea confronts key geopolitical challenges that obstruct the further commercialization of 5G technology – most notably, potential embargo on key materials from Japan and difficulties trading with China amid growing hostilities between Washington and Beijing.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of James Constant and Sonia Kim.

Picture from flickr user Tamie Cruse

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