South Korea Moves Forward on Nationwide Public-Safety Network, Direct Mode Feature
By Youngsam Hong
Friday, September 20, 2019 | Comments

In December 2018, South Korea’s National Procurement Office awarded Korea Telecom and SK Telecom contracts for the country’s nationwide public-safety Long Term Evolution (PS-LTE) network. Korea Telecom won a 714.5 billion Korean won (US$600 million) contract to build District A and B, and SK Telecom won a 312 billion Korean won (US$261.7 million) contract for District C.

District A covers Seoul, Daegu, Daejon, Sejong, Gyeongbuk, Chungnam and Jeju, and District B covers Gwangju, Gyeonggi, Gwangwon, Jeonbuk and Jeonnam. District C covers Busan, Incheon, Ulsan, Chungbuk and Gyeongnam.

In the request for proposals (RFP), 5,647; 6,148; and 3,652 base stations were estimated for Districts A, B and C, respectively. But, actual quantities could increase slightly over the estimate for reliable coverage. The network core and operation center are part of District A.

Following the selection of preferred bidders last October, the deployment started in December and is targeted to be completed by December 2020. Operations would start district by district in early 2020 and nationwide operation in 2021.

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 system and user equipment (UE) will be based on mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) and evolved multimedia broadcast multicast services eMBMS. Direct-to-direct (D2D) communications will be also provided as an optional feature.

The D2D service will be based on direct discovery for public-safety use and direct communication via sidelink, according to Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) TS 36.300, 24.334 and 23.303. D2D product purchase and supply is expected to happen next year.

In addition to South Korea, there is similar demand for D2D services for the U.K. and Singapore public-safety LTE networks. Samsung is currently positive about both the LTE chipset and UE products supporting the D2D feature.

The National Procurement Office also awarded Korea Telecom a contract to supply PS-LTE UEs for the South Korea National Police. The order includes 4,208 LTE units with a radio form factor and 9,819 units with a smartphone form factor. AM Telecom and Samsung Electronics will manufacture the radio and smartphone type LTE UEs.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the total quantity of UEs is estimated at 239,118 units for various user agencies. Therefore, additional procurements will be announced.

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

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