Samsung, SK Telecom Building IoT-Dedicated Network

The companies in the middle of this year will launch an LoRaWAN-based commercial  network in South Korea for the Internet of things.


Samsung Electronics is working with SK Telecom to create what officials with both companies say will be the first nationwide commercial network dedicated to the Internet of things and using the LoRaWAN networking standard.

The network will launch in the South Korean of Daegu in June and will become available throughout the country sometime in the middle of the year, company officials announced May 24. Samsung and SK Telecom envision a network that can support everything from cloud platforms and infrastructure for renewable energy technologies to big data analytics for health care and medical facilities and infrastructures for self-driving cars.

Among the ways Daegu will use the network will be to support streetlights that will collect data such as weather and traffic information via Internet of things (IoT) sensors. The streetlights will be able to do such things as adjust the lighting level and issue smog alerts, the officials said.

"Now is a critical moment for ICT [information and communications technology] companies looking for new future business opportunities such as IoT services," Youngky Kim, president and head of networks business at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

Like many in the tech industry, Samsung has been making an aggressive push into an IoT market that IDC analysts said could hit $1.3 trillion in spending by 2019. The company in 2014 bought IoT startup SmartThings, and a year later officials said the company would invest $100 million in 2015 on its IoT developer program and that within five years, all of the hardware Samsung builds will be able to connect to the Internet. Earlier this month, Samsung led a $20.3 million round of funding for an IoT startup called Afero, which sells technologies businesses can use to connect a device to the Internet.

Officials with Cisco Systems estimate that by 2020, there will be more than 50 billion smart, connected devices worldwide, double what it was in 2014. In April, Samsung grew its portfolio of developer tools for its Artik system-on-a-chip (SoC) platform.

Samsung and SK Telecom will base their network on LoRaWAN (long-range, wide-area network) that is designed for the IoT and developed by the LoRa Alliance. According to the industry consortium, LoRaWAN addresses such needs as bidirectional communication, mobility and localization services and is aimed at providing seamless interoperability among the things in the IoT.

Samsung officials said that LoRaWAN networks use unlicensed, public spectrum called the Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band and will support Listen Before Talking (LBT), a technique used by telecommunications vendors in which radio transmitters first assess the radio environment before starting a transmission. It will help prevent performance degradation of industrial communications already using the ISM band, according to Samsung officials.

Samsung and SK Telecom also will introduce a new service model called the Internet of Small Things (IoST), which officials with the companies said will open up more business opportunities using Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) like LoRaWAN. LPWAN is optimized to transmit small amounts of data at speeds below 5Kb/s.