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A ‘supplement’ to LTE and 5G? SK Telecom, Sinclair follow up JV with focus on automotive mobility

Cars are ‘just one more personalized mobile device,’ says Harman CEO

After announcing a U.S. joint venture for next-generation television broadcasting earlier this week, Korean mobile operator SK Telecom and Sinclair Broadcasting Group promptly followed up with a deal that brings in automotive software services company Harman to target the automotive space.

Dinesh Paliwal, president and CEO of Samsung-owned Harman, said in a statement that the technology that the companies are developing “will bring a high-value option for bulk data communication, which can supplement conventional 4G and 5G mobile data networks.

Today’s pervasively connected cars are becoming just one more personalized mobile device that consume data to deliver a maximum safety and reliability and an optimized user experience,” said Paliwal.

SK Telecom, Sinclair and Harman signed a memorandum of understanding at the Consumer Electronics Show this week to “jointly develop and commercialize digital broadcasting network-based automotive electronics technology for global markets.”

The companies will build an automotive platform based on the Advanced Television Systems Committee 3.0 standard for next-generation TV broadcasting — the same technology that is the basis of SK Telecom’s new joint venture with Sinclair, which will be officially formed during the first quarter. The ATSC 3.0 standard enables data communications in broadcasting bands and can support two-way communications with end user devices by recognizing personal IP addresses. Mobile viewing, three-dimensional television, 4K ultra-high definition, high dynamic range, high frame rate and immersive audio are among the other features of ATSC 3.0.

The three companies said their automotive platform will “enable drivers to experience in-vehicle [high-definition] terrestrial TV broadcasting, secure firmware updates, HD map updates and V2X certificate management via terrestrial digital broadcasting facilities operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group throughout the United States,” adding that “the technology will also be deployed in other geographies as local broadcast facilities become available.”

Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, described the collaboration around developing the mobility features of ATSC 3.0 as “as a potential value creator for Sinclair and other U.S. broadcasters.

To this point, the ability to use over-the-air updates for vehicle software systems have come via Wi-Fi or cellular networks; Harman, which was acquired by Samsung in 2017, is a leader in OTA updates and services for connected vehicles.

The three companies said that they will “work together to provide market leading technology and grow market share in [the] U.S. market and “also plan to seek joint business opportunities in the global automotive market.”

Mobility and media are core business areas that will undergo innovative changes in the 5G era,” said Park Jung-ho, president and CEO of SK Telecom, in a statement. “With Harman and Sinclair Broadcast Group, SK Telecom will target the mobility and media markets in the U.S. and expand into the global market.”


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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