Verizon signs 5G pact with SK Telecom

Verizon Wireless and Korean mobile operator SK Telecom have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct joint studies and advance the standardization process for 5G.

In addition to 5G, the two companies are also swapping technical knowledge on LTE, IoT and network virtualization while agreeing to “strengthen cooperation” within Open Compute Project (OCP) and the Mobile Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (M-CORD) project.

SK Telecom and Verizon said they’ve been discussing 5G requirements and since late last year and their new MOU comes after the companies in February 2016 formed a global initiative called the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance.

“This MOU will further strengthen and deepen our collaboration with Verizon,” said SK Telecom CTO Alex Jinsung Choi in a statement. “Through joint studies and researches, SK Telecom and Verizon will develop 5G technical specifications and innovative use cases to move up the commercialization of/usher in the new era of/lead the era of 5G.”

"Verizon continues to collaborate with SK Telecom to develop 5G technologies," said Roger Gurnani, executive vice president and chief information and technology architect at Verizon, in a statement. “The signing of this MOU reflects our combined effort to advance the 5G ecosystem and drive technical development towards global commercialization of 5G technologies.”

Verizon has been working with operators in Asian markets since last year on 5G technologies. Operators in both South Korea and Japan are pushing 5G standardization ahead of upcoming Olympics Games in both countries. Korean mobile operator KT wants to launch a live 5G service for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games being hosted in the city of Pyeongchang, and Japan's NTT DoCoMo is preparing a 5G technology showcase to go along with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In the U.S., Verizon has been one of the most vocal mobile carrier proponents of 5G. While AT&T is also heavily involved with testing 5G technologies, Verizon is aiming to be the first to launch 5G fixed mobile service in the U.S. and plans to have trials of the service up and running in 2017.

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