In a consortium with academic and research institutions, SK Telecom is to establish the nation’s first underwater communication network. The company announced on May 24 that it established a consortium with local universities and research institutions to undertake the national research project initiated by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and develop maritime technology over the next seven years. The project is dubbed “Distributed Underwater Monitoring and Control Network” as part of the maritime equipment development and infrastructure construction.
The underwater control network, which will be developed by the consortium, will collect various underwater information using sensors and send it to land through base stations in the water. The collected information can be used for maritime weather observation and ecological environment analysis, keeping track the shipping industry including route information of vessels, and for national defense of territorial waters.
Also, these underwater networks will allow not only more accurate prediction of maritime climatological observation and natural disasters by detecting sea temperature, currents, and seismic waves, but also quick response to ship accidents.
The national project is broadly divided into three areas – the development of underwater sensor nodes that can work for long hours underwater, and communication technology between stations, the design of an idealized underwater network for accurate wave propagation in the water, and the construction of a central integrative network in a bid to unite the communication networks of the land and sea.
As marine territory is becoming more focused on between nations, the Korean government and the consortium are expecting to have a strong foundation to compete against countries with advanced underwater networks through this first national underwater network construction project.
In fact, major advanced countries are actively seeking to develop “Internet of Underwater Things” to strengthen maritime territorial sovereignty and develop marine areas.
The U.S. has pushed for a maritime observation network since it developed an underwater communication modem in 1985. The European Union is also conducting several related projects, including the development of submarine monitoring technology using sonar.
Moreover, Japan has been working on submarine research focusing on a submarine earthquake detection network. Accordingly, Korea should also strengthen research on marine communication from various angles, not only of academic value but also industry and national defense.