South Korea Releases Public-Safety LTE Procurement, Bids Due 4 October
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 | Comments

The South Korean government released a request for proposals (RFP) for its nationwide public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network following its second pilot project, which ended in March.

Proposals are due 4 October, and the contract winners will be decided by 12 October.

The three-lot procurement will begin simultaneously, and each lot will include a geographic coverage area of three three-phase buildout plans. For example, the Lot A winner will be responsible for a portion of the coverage area in each of the three phases.

The nationwide deployment plan includes three nine-month buildout phases with phase one targeting the middle area of the country, phase two covering the southern area, and phase three covering Seoul and the surrounding capital area.

Based on South Korea’s two pilot projects for the network, the nationwide coverage strategy involves four methods. A government-owned national infrastructure that comprises LTE fixed base stations will cover nationally important infrastructure, roads and densely populated areas. Radio access network (RAN) sharing with other networks — also called multioperator core network (MOCN) — will help cover mountainous, rural and indoor/underground areas, along with roads.

Cells on wheels (CoWs) and backpack cells will further address mountainous, rural and indoor/underground areas, along with maritime coverage. Other networks such as LTE-Railway (LTE-R) and LTE-Maritime will be used to address mountains, rural areas, indoor/underground areas, maritime and railroads.

Separately, South Korea’s government is deploying an LTE-R network over the whole country, beginning in 2016 and planned through 2025, so the country’s railroads will have an LTE-R dedicated network.

All three of the country’s commercial operators — SK Telecom, Korea Telecom and LG U+ — are expected to bid on the procurement.

“The RFP is for all three years,” said Dujeong Choi, general manager of the public-safety communications team for South Korea’s Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA). “A procurement is usually released step by step but in order to speed it up and ensure more control and no delays, we released a three-year procurement at one time, which will be contract binding with selected operators. It will guarantee the continuity of buildout.”

Phase one deployment will begin in November this year, and operations and maintenance ends in 2025. Phase two begins in 2019 and ends in 2025, and phase three begins in 2020 with the same 2025 end date.

Lot A includes building core networks — one was built during a 2015 pilot and one will serve as a backup. Lot A also includes radio units (RUs), digital units (DUs), repeaters, COWs and backpack cells. Lots B and C each comprise RUs, DUs and repeaters. Each public-safety user agency will procure its own devices.

The budget for Lot A is around US$364 million and includes deployment costs, operations and maintenance, and fiber backhaul leasing. The Lot B budget is about US$282 million, and Lot C is $170 million.

South Korea’s first pilot ran from November 2015 to June 2016 in three cities. The second six-month pilot ran from October 2017 to March 2018 around the area of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The second pilot proved RAN sharing worked and could be used as one method to extend coverage, Choi said.

“Public-safety LTE fixed base stations cannot cover whole country, so we are using commercial operators' RANs in some portions; that’s how we can cover the whole nation,” Choi said.

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