South Korea Finalizes First Phase of Public-Safety LTE Buildout
By Youngsam Hong
Thursday, February 20, 2020 | Comments

The first phase of the South Korean nationwide public-safety network is complete, while phase two is underway and expected to be completed by June.

South Korea is targeting to complete the overall deployment by December. Operations are planned to start district by district during 2020, with nationwide operation in 2021.

South Korea started the main project of the South Korea’s nationwide public-safety Long Term Evolution (PS-LTE) network in December 2018 with deployment planning in three phases, which each have three districts. Korea Telecom is building two districts, while one district was awarded to SK Telecom.

The scope of phase one, completed in October, includes upgrading the core and operations center, installed during the pilot project, and coverage for the middle region of the nation. The coverage includes the cities of Daejon and Sejong, as well as Chungbuk, Chungnam and Gangwon provinces. KT deployed the two cities and Chungnam and Gangwon provinces, while SKT deployed Chungbuk province.

The total number of fixed base stations is 4,376, an increase from the estimate of 3,299 in the request for proposals (RFP) for reliable coverage. The first core and operations center in Seoul are also part of KT's scope. The network core and operation center will be fully redundant, and all the services will be seamlessly continued by using active pool configuration, real-time database replication and automatic switchover. The network will have triple geographical redundancy among Seoul (first), Daegu (second) and Jeju (third), in addition to local redundancy.

The system and user equipment (UE) include carrier-integrated mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) and evolved multimedia broadcast multicast services (eMBMS) technology from Samsung Electronics. A direct mode feature is an option but not yet mandated.

The National Procurement Office also awarded Korea Telecom a contract to supply public-safety LTE user equipment (UE) for the South Korea National Police. The order includes about 5,000 LTE units with a radio form factor and 10,000 units with a smartphone form factor. AM Telecom and Samsung Electronics manufactured and provided the radio and smartphone-type LTE UE according to the South Korea’s Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) standard for PS-LTE UE, which was published for full compatibility with the nationwide PS-LTE network last year. The Safe-Net Forum contributed to development of the specification.

Police are planning to start using the nationwide public-safety LTE network with the public-safety LTE UE in March in Sejong, Chungbuk, Chungnam and Gangwon after trials are conducted in January and February.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the total quantity of UEs is estimated at 240,000 units for various user agencies. Therefore, additional procurements will be announced.

Coverage verification and enhancements will be continued to stabilize network quality, and the Safe-Net Forum will develop convergence services such as applications and an internet of things (IoT) ecosystem. In particular, standard operating procedures (SOP) are being developed for unified communications among users in various agencies.

Youngsam Hong is the Safe-Net Forum outreach committee chair.

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