Korean carrier SK Telecom announced plans to form a joint venture with German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom (DT) this year with the main goal of developing 5G technology, SK Telecom said in a release.
They will each hold 50% of the joint venture and each will name one representative to lead the new entity. The joint venture will have its headquarters in Germany.
Through the joint venture, the two carriers will develop advanced 5G in-building solutions and develop market opportunities starting with Europe. In the mid-to-long-term, they said will also evaluate opportunities to cooperate in the areas of augmented reality and virtual reality services, mobile edge computing (MEC) and the app market.
SK Telecom will contribute the technology assets it has developed over the years to the joint venture. The Korean company has already provided 5G/LTE dual-mode repeaters to support DT’s customer trial for in-building coverage carried out in Berlin, Hamburg, Bonn, Cologne, Munich, Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Leipzig, from August to October 2020. Customer trial results have shown that users experienced “significant improvement” in 5G and LTE for both voice and data experience with this test device. The joint venture is also expected to complete the development of an advanced 5G/LTE dual-mode repeater.
The Korean telco has invested $30 million into funds managed by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP), an investment management group backed by the German operator, to nurture start-ups and secure future growth engines. DTCP has opened an office in Seoul, which will function as the regional headquarters in Asia.
“The partnership between SKT and Deutsche Telekom is very meaningful at a time when the world is heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Telecom. “The deepened bond between the two companies will play an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe and lead us to new technologies that can bring greater value to humanity.”
The creation of the joint venture is still subject to mandatory regulatory approval but expected to close before the end of the year.
Deutsche Telekom kicked off the rollout of its 5G network in a limited number of cities across Germany at the beginning of July 2019. Currently, Telekom’s 5G network is available in Berlin, Bonn, Darmstadt, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg, among other cities. Deutsche Telekom is using different frequencies for its 5G expansion. The focus is on the 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz frequency bands.
By the end of July, the German telco said its 5G service reached 3,000 towns and municipalities across the country, with nearly 30,000 5G antennas already in operation.
SK Telecom launched 5G technology in April 2019, through 5G non-standalone architecture (NSA) and using spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.
SK Telecom recently said it expects to target clients in the corporate segment once it expands its 5G network with standalone architecture.
SK Telecom aims to launch its 5G SA network later this year using spectrum in the 28 GHz band.
The telco recently said it had reached a total of 4.26 million subscribers in the 5G segment as of the end of the third quarter.