Thursday, September 24, 2020

Flying machines


Source: pixabay



Domestically, the drone is defined in the law as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System and Unmanned Aircraft System.

Regulation issues in Korea are the biggest obstacle to the drone industry. In 2017, the government introduced a program to support drone manufacturing companies providing them with benefits, but there are still limitations on the actual use of drones.  The regulations changed again recently with the new Drone Law that allows close to no restrictions on drone usage in selected cities. Even though the drone industry had a late start, the liberalized regulations will open up opportunities in the future.  

Experts predict that the domestic market will grow rapidly as regulations are relaxed and conglomerate invest in the market. Korea is a late starter compared to other countries and the technology might be a bit lagging. However, if the government, cooperates with private companies with the right technology, it will bring positive results.

Based on an article in the Maeil Business Newspaper, the government has composed a three-stage road map to reduce regulations as well as to provide financial support in order to facilitate the safe development of an advanced drone industry. The first step is to develop technology where manually controlled drones can transport weight up to 10kg in non-urban areas. After 2022, semi-automated drones will transport 50kg or more in urban areas. Lastly, after 2025, autopilot advance drones will be able to provide transportation for two or more people. 

The government believes that advanced drones can improve many industries but the most significant change is assumed to be in the agricultural industry.  Most investment is aligned with this belief.


Focus of Investment in Advanced Drones


Market Potential:

Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport


Conglomerates are entering the market as they see the potential that drone technology can create. Major logistics companies are investing in the market and network companies are also looking for possibilities. Hyundai Motors announced that they are planning for commercialized drone taxis by 2023. The current market is focused on military use drones, but experts predict that the market will soon shift to agriculture, content, and construction.  


Estimated drone market size:







Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Unit: KRW Billion

Competing with the two large markets of the United States and China, domestic manufacturers will have offer [or 'bring to the table'] unique value added.  While Chinese manufacturers will be able to offer price competitive products given their established supply chain, Korean firms will need a different strategy. For example, they could promote drones that support care and guidance for the elderly or gaming content.  Developing essential parts for drones should also be a priority.  The potential for the drone industry is unlimited. Another related area where Korea's future is bright is the autonomous vehicle industry. 

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Friday, September 18, 2020

No Need to Drive

A long anticipated revolutionary change to travel is the advent of the autonomous (also known as self-driving or auto pilot) vehicle. 

Source: pixabay 

Korea – a Developed Automotive Country.


Korea has developed a strong automotive industry. No one would have believed that Korea could be a successful in the automobile business back in the 1980s. Now Korea is known for vehicle manufacturing and Hyundai Motors was ranked 6th by brand value in the automobile industry by Interbrand in 2019.


In 2015, when vehicle and parts production decreased with the economic slowdown, Korea started to look to the future and advance technology for future cars such as electric, fuel cell, and self-driving. By 2018, the government announced support for the development of self-driving vehicles. In October 2019, the government also announced that Korea would be the first to establish the infrastructure for autonomous cars with advance policies, networks, roads, traffic control and detailed virtual map by 2027.  It promised support to localize companies and technology for the infrastructure’s core components


New Automobile Era


There are other considerations for the upcoming self-driving vehicle era. There are various factors that must be developed to achieve a comprehensive self-driving vehicle ecosystem. Electric vehicles, auto pilot software and information sharing platforms are some of the major components that must be developed.


The potential of the Korea autonomous vehicle industry still needs development in software and investment in high-tech technicians. On the other hand, there are already in play plans related to vehicle development, ICT industry and transportation infrastructure which are considered Korea's strong suit.


Market Size


According to an estimate by KPMG, the domestic self-driving vehicle market in 2020 was KRW 150 billion. The annual expected growth rate is 40% and by 2035 it is estimated that the market will reach KRW 23 trillion. This market not only includes the vehicle, but also advance roads, object recognition technology, edge analytics and other industries which will directly affect the self-driving vehicle market. 


The upcoming market for automobiles will change dramatically and it will require more than just the effort of major vehicle production companies to maintain the current market. The government will need to provide advanced roads and infrastructure while platform companies need to keep information flow ongoing. The technology for sensors, reactors and AI software is another crucial factor. Korea is preparing to be challenged by unknown obstacles ahead.  

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Next Generation Network



Network infrastructure


Korea’s advance network was made possible by a robust IT Infrastructure and concentrated population density. Close to 50% of the population lives in the Seoul Metropolitan area, which makes free, high-speed Wi-Fi more feasible to deliver than in other demographics.


The current developed network infrastructure was initiated with the National Basic Information System (국가기간전산망) in the 1980s, an investment to prepare for the information/digital era. This system was initially installed to connect public, financial, medical and other services. Since 1995, as the demand for high-speed internet increased, the government invested in the high-speed internet network, expanding connection of initial 80 locations to over 140. Also, one major component was the implementing a backbone fiber optic cable infrastructure which boosted internet speed to a high level in the late1990s. As the whole country was connecting through the internet and with the Korean culture of urgency (Korea is known for its ‘bbali bbali’ or fast faster culture), demand grew and competition to provide cost-efficient faster internet speed increased.


Korea fastest internet


Korea was one of the first countries in the world to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure and quickly developed a reputation for fast access. From 2017 to 2019, Korea was ranked no. 1 in the world for internet speed. Recent research shows that Korea's rank for internet speed has dropped to 30th.  Other countries have recently developed and established 3rd and 4th generation communication networks which are more advanced than what Korea has.


However, Korea has continued to invest in network technology and is investing in 5G.  . Wireless communication is quickly replacing traditional wired telecommunications. With the new technology, the goal is to re-achieve the unequivocal title of fastest internet


Telecommunication Market size

Source: Statistics Korea

Units: KRW billion



5th Generation Communication Network


In April 2019, Korea was the first country to launch a commercialized 5G network. Achieving the title of no.1 commercialized 5G network was possible as the telecom companies and electronics companies collaborated to achieve this single goal. A few weeks after the launch, according to internet speed testing webpage Ookla, mobile internet speed in Korea became the globe's fastest. Within a year, the three carriers, SKT, KT and LGU+, offer coverage within the metropolitan area of 50% to 60% with a max speed is 1.8Gps and an average speed of 500~900Mbs. Based on market research by RootMetrics, in the U.S., the top coverage within the major city area is less than 10% and the max downloading speed is 780Mbs. 


However, there are downsides to a 5G network. The coverage, content and cost for 5G service still needs improvement. 50% ~ 60% coverage will not satisfy the existing consumers even if it is significantly higher than other global 5G network standards. The price for 5G service is higher than 4G and consumers must also purchase \mobile devices with the capability to access 5G network adding to the cost that customers must bear. Another issue is content. While 5G networks can provide unique content, the domestic market cannot produce enough 5G content that is superior to that of 4G networks. The hope is VR/AR contents, cloud gaming and big data platforms to be released.



The Next Generation Communication Network.


6G communication network development is already in process. A source from the Institute for Information and Communications Technology Promotion (IITP) stated that 6G technological tests are in the approval stage. After 2021 they will be able to develop the technology under a government grant. The initial development of 6G technology was launched later than China and the US, which started around 2018. One of the key players of 5G technology, Samsung Electronics, announced that they have started investing in 6G technology and will be able to commercialize it in 2028 and believe it will be commonplace in 2030. Unlike the focus of 5G which was solely on performance, 6G has three focuses, collaborative performance, structure and credibility.  


Powerful Network Country


The value of the communication network is expanding rapidly. Applying new technology requires a massive volume of information to be transmitted and the network provides the pathway. Korea is well known for its network infrastructure and has gained an enormous amount of success from it. Moreover, Korea is known for preparing for the next generation such as the first launch of 5G. Now the spotlight is on 6G. The three telecom providers are committed to providing the best wireless service to customers, no STRINGS attached!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The IT Brain - Artificial Intelligence


Source: pixabay 

Artificial Intelligence will be one of the core technologies of the coming era. While bigdata is collecting information, the value of the information does not present itself; it requires a refining process carried out by AI.  


The first appearance of AI in Korea was by AlphaGo, an AI developed by DeepMind, which played go against Korean professional go player Lee, Se-Dol in 2016. However, this development did not ignite the industry at the time.  Furthermore, data indicates that Korean companies do not appreciate the value of AI. Sadly, the National Assembly Research Service discovered that only 0.6% of companies (from almost 4 million) use AI, and 83% believe that AI is unnecessary. 


Korea's AI technology is near the bottom on a global scale according to a National Information Society Agency (NIA) report in 2018. Considering Korea's reputation for high quality IT, the report was devastating. NIA reported that the United States' total AI market was about US$ 760 million, while Korea was only US$ 47.2 million, or about 6% of the United States. Moreover, the number of companies related to AI is 26 in Korea which is ranked last among researched eight countries, while the United States had over 2,000 companies. However, there is hope. The number of startup companies in Korea ranked second after the United States. 


To promote the IT industry, the government started to promote AI technology from early 2020 and planned to develop Korea's ranking of AI technology to the top 3. To encourage companies, the government provided financial support and educational programs to increase the pool of AI technicians.  


On the other hand, private companies in Korea have also begun to develop AI technology. Given the current gap, Korean firms cannot easily reach the depth of what Google and Amazon or Alibaba and Huawei have developed over time. To accelerate development, private companies are working together. KT has agreed to work with LG Electronics and LG U+ to boost the speed of AI technology development while SK Telecom has teamed up with Samsung Electronics and Kakao. 

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