Posted : 2017-10-15 17:07
Updated : 2017-10-15 18:00

KT chief meets Elon Musk for satellite partnership

KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu, right, poses with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after discussing partnerships for the former's planned launch of the KoreaSat 5A telecommunication satellite, at the headquarters of the U.S. company in Hawthorne, California, Thursday (local time). / Courtesy of KT

By Lee Min-hyung

KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu met with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk last week to discuss partnerships for their satellite and autonomous vehicle businesses, the mobile carrier said Sunday.

In particular, Hwang expressed gratitude to Musk for helping the telecom operator launch its latest satellite, KoreaSat 5A, at the end of this month. SpaceX will be in charge of helping put the KT satellite into orbit.

KoreaSat 5A is an upgraded version of KoreaSat 5. The latter was able to cover networks between Korea and Southeast Asian territories. But the latest one is expected to allow KT to offer network services from Korea to Southeast Asia as well as to the Middle East, which is about 7,500 kilometers away from the country.

SpaceX, which manufactures spacecraft and rockets, was established in 2002 with a vision to send one million human beings to Mars in the next 100 years. KT is the first Korean customer of the U.S.-based aerospace company.

Aside from the satellite partnership, Hwang and Musk also shared their plans in the upcoming fifth-generation (5G) network era.

"In a meeting with Musk, we have discussed potential synergies that both parties can generate in various 5G-driven industries such as autonomous vehicles and smart energy management," the KT chief said. "The meeting will help raise our global profile."

Elon Musk is also a pioneer of the electric vehicle industry with the launch of Tesla. This past June, KT and Tesla clinched a deal to co-develop a telematics system for Tesla vehicles. The in-vehicle wireless internet service allows drivers to send and receive emails as well as get real-time traffic information on the road.

The partnership in the connected vehicle industry came in recognition for KT's years-long efforts to invest in the 5G network which the company says will become the key to advance the era of autonomous cars.

KT aims to commercialize the world's first 5G network service by 2019. The company is particularly seeking to take full advantage of the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics as a venue to showcase its latest achievements in 5G.

The company is going all-out to offer 5G pilot services for the global sports event that will kick off in February in the nation's eastern mountains. They include Sync View, a service to provide audiences with real-time viewpoints of athletes, and Time Slice multi-perspective visual image transmission.

SpaceX President and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell also joined the meeting with Hwang. She said SpaceX is pleased to partner with KT's planned launch of the KoreaSat 5A satellite and will do its utmost to successfully carry it to orbit.

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