Samsung Tuesday said it is working with SK Telecom in its home market of South Korea to launch a wireless network specifically for the Internet of Things. The companies claim it will be the first such network anywhere in the world. Commercial enterprises will be able to put the network to use to bring their connected services to life.
The network will mark its debut in the city of Daegu in June, with the rest of the country to follow shortly thereafter. Daegu is Korea's fourth-largest city. The companies are using the 900 MHz frequency band, which in Korea is unlicensed public spectrum called the Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) band.
The LoRaWAN -- long-range WAN -- will support the Listen Before Talk function in order to prevent degradation of other industrial communications services in the ISM band. Samsung says a new service, called the Internet of Small Things, lets businesses connect to the network with low-power devices. Such devices (mostly sensors) won't need much bandwidth or speed, and can connect at only 5Kbps, far slower than the 50Mbps speeds smartphone owners enjoy via LTE 4G.
Samsung and SK Telecom plan to use Daegu as a test bed for the IoT network to see how it performs at a citywide level. It already has cloud platforms, healthcare and medical services, and electric vehicle infrastructure waiting to use the network. Daegu plans to use streetlights, for example, to collect weather, pollution, and traffic information while they also dynamically change in intensity to match the need for illumination.
"Now is a critical moment for ICT companies looking for new future business opportunities such as IoT services," president and head of networks business at Samsung Electronics Youngky Kim said in a statement.
Samsung claims its IoT network will be the first of its kind, but others are already in progress. For example, Swisscom will have a nationwide IoT network up and running later this year, as will KPN in The Netherlands.
Wireless network operators in the US have a somewhat different strategy. Rather than put up a single network dedicated to the IoT, companies such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are using their main cellular networks to connect devices around the country. Like Samsung, Qualcomm and other component makers are eager to participate in what they see as an untapped goldmine as smart cities come online.