Korean mobile carriers are seeking to push into the connected car market in earnest. They plan to offer infotainment services, including their own contents, to customers as platform operators, beyond wireless network providers, and expand to autonomous vehicles in the future.
When ushering into the era of 5G network with high speed of up to 20Gbps, ultra-low latency of less than 1ms and hyper-connectivity of 1 million connections per square kilometers, an increasing number of connected cars will be realized and the telecommunications and automobile industries are expected to mutually grow in the future.
In the connected car sector, mobile carriers are more interested in infotainment combining platforms and contents than automakers and electronics companies.
KT held a press conference on September 28 and announced its goal to achieve 500 billion won (US$435.54 million) of sales in the connected car business by 2020 in partnership with 13 domestic and foreign brands that entered the domestic market. KT said that new connected cars equipped with the company’s platform “GiGA Drive” account for 75 percent of the total in the current market and the share can be increased to 91 percent by 2020.
Kim Joon-geun, head of KT GiGA IoT business division, said, “We have signed a B2B contract with car brands that can receive research and development (R&D) costs and license fees. We will develop B2B2C business models that can provide differentiated services using KT’s own platforms with the partnership with a third party to customers in the future.”
SK Telecom entrusts the connected car’s infotainment to its mobile navigation T Map app. The company recently helped customers use voice recognition interface by applying its AI platform “NUGU” to T Map. After the release, SK Telecom is making use of it to search destination and gas stations, stream music and check weather forecasts.
The company is planning to add a communication function that allows customers to receive calls and send texts with voice command in November.
LG U+ is now interested in commerce in the connected car sector. The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with KB Kookmin Card in August to establish intelligence commerce ecosystem. Starting with connected car and Geo-fencing services within this year, the company will expand services to the mixed reality (MR) and AI robot sectors.
With connected cars, customers will be able to use vehicle-based Internet services, check vehicle location and status, analyze driving habits and failure detection services via mobile as well as make mobile payments at gas stations, parking lots and drive-through stores online and offline by connecting with payment services.
Mobile carriers are also targeting driverless cars based on their capabilities in connected cars.
After SK Telecom introduced its 5G connected car called “T5” at BMW Driving Center in Yeongjong Island, Incheon, in November last year, the company has continuously been trying to secure autonomous driving technologies. It also succeeded in completing a test of its self-driving car technology on a 26-kilometer (16-mile) stretch of highway in the Seoul suburbs on the 21st. A modified Genesis G80 sedan from Hyundai Motor embedded with SK Telecom’s autopilot technology drove from a service area in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, to an interchange in Suwon Singal, Gyeonggi Province, for 33 minutes with the maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour).
KT is focusing on self-driving bus. During a press conference on the 28th, the company announced to build a self-driving shuttle bus test site in Pangyo Zero City in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, by the end of 2019. It said its autonomous bus can realize not only solo self-driving but also additional platooning functions. The bus is also equipped with a precision positioning system with the accuracy of a few centimeters using KT’s wireless networks in addition to existing sensors, incluing LiDAR and camera.