SK Telecom shrinks 4G latency to just 2ms

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Cutting latency from 25ms to 2ms is a step to 5G services, says South Korean operator after trial with Nokia

South Korea’s SK Telecom says it has achieved some of the aims of 5G mobile with today’s 4G.

The company says that it has achieved latency between handset and base station of just 2ms – compared with 25ms that is more common today.

“Low latency technology is essential in realizing 5G services such as autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and virtual reality services,” said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president at SK Telecom and head of its network technology R&D centre.

SK Telecom was working with Nokia in the demonstration. Park added: “We will continue to improve our low latency technologies to achieve 5G evolution, while applying the latest technologies to our LTE networks to further enhance customer experience.”

The demonstration brings SK Telecom “one step closer to realizing 5G”, said the company. It added that the International Telecommunication Union states that technologies designed for 5G need to deliver a peak data rate of up to 20Gbps with latency of only 1ms.

A 25ms latency can support two-way communication services such as remote learning and smart work, said SK Telecom. But it is not low enough to provide services that require real-time transmission of data such as autonomous driving and telemedicine.

A latency of 2ms – as in this demonstration – is expected to facilitate the development of a number real-time services, the company added, including autonomous driving.

That is particularly important as, with a latency of 25ms, a self-driving vehicle at 150km/h will travel 1m before starting to decelerate. With the 2ms latency the distance is only 8cm.