Research and development on 5G-LTE interworking technology, which allows mobile operators to provide 5G services in areas devoid of a 5G network, is growing.
Data released by the Korean Intellectual Property Office show that patent applications related to 5G-LTE interworking technology soared to 165 in 2017 from 24 in 2016 when international standardization work on 5G technology started.
The development of 5G-LTE interworking technology is active because building a nationwide 5G network is expected to take a long time.
Domestic and overseas telecom service providers also prefer 5G equipment that can work with LTE. Equipment manufacturers are also interested in 5G-LTE interworking technology to preempt the global 5G market, which is expected to reach up to US$1.16 trillion by 2026.
Last year, the number of applications somewhat decreased to 62. This is because many of the applications filed overseas have not yet entered the Korean market or there are cases where patents were not disclosed after applications.
Until last year, 178 applications were filed for dual connectivity which can simultaneously connect to a 5G base station and an LTE base station and 98 applications for coexistence technology to enable 5G and LTE systems to share the same frequency.
Connection and coexistence technologies are expected to not only save telecom operators early investment in 5G systems but promote the spread of 5G services by elevating service speed as connection and coexistence technologies use current LTE equipment and frequencies.