LG Electronics expands into growing 5G local area network market11. May 2023
South Korea’s LG Electronics is planning to expand its business into the growing market of so-called private or local 5G networks. This move is intended to help LG offer more products and services in the B2B sector such as network equipment or logistics robots to factories or logistics centres as a turnkey solution. At a shareholders’ meeting at the end of March, LG Electronics presented a corresponding proposal to expand its “communications for enterprise customers” business. To this end, the tech giant will submit an application to the relevant regulatory authority, the Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as an operator of local 5G networks. It should be noted that many wireless infrastructure components and parts require KC EMC certification to be approved for import and sale in South Korea.
A local or private 5G network is completely self-contained and shielded from public cellular networks. It is set up inside buildings or industrial facilities to control and monitor machines and processes. Until now, companies had to use public 5G networks, which led to interruptions in data traffic and insufficient data security. In addition to just building private 5G networks, LG Electronics also plans to offer its industrial robots in the process. LG Electronics entered this market in 2018 with the acquisition of Robostar Co. It then invested in numerous start-ups such as SG Robotics, Acryl and Bossa Nova. Robostar makes, among other things, vertical multi-joint robots that are used in production facilities for displays and semiconductors. For example, there are many Robostar robots in LG Electronics’ smart factories at LG Smart Park Changwon.
According to a report by Pulse News Korea, LG Electronics has the proven know-how to operate a private 5G network. The company has filed about 30,000 patents in the 5G field, 10,000 of which are considered so-called “Class A” patents. Moreover, according to experts, LG Electronics is able to manufacture many components in-house and is therefore not dependent on external suppliers. It is considered likely that LG Electronics will build its first private 5G network at its home appliance factory in Tennessee, USA. The factory produces around 1.2 million washing machines annually and already has 160 automated logistics robots. With the commissioning of the local 5G network, LG expects an automation rate of more than 70 per cent.
LG Electronics’ push is expected to intensify international competition in the field of local 5G networks. Estimates suggest that the market will grow to US$41 billion by 2030. LG’s biggest competitor is Samsung Electronics Co, which has already built a dedicated 5G network for Naver Corp’s second headquarters in Seongnam.
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