Although fourth-generation (4G) cellular wireless still has yet to hold its own, the South Korean government is already developing 5G access that may be ready soon after 4G services go live, the country's officials say (registration required). The country hopes to invest money equal to $58.4 million over the next three years into both advancing 4G access and to starting work on 5G at the same time. Doing so is said to hopefully make the Asian country the top-ranked cellphone producer in the world by setting a 4G standard and becoming the primary source of 4G on the planet.
Korea is already in second place due in large part to the preences of companies such as LG and Samsung, which combined with others ship as many as 250 million phones a yuarl.
It remains too early to gauge what 5G will involve, though 4G typically peaks at 10Mbps downstream for WiMAX (and Korea's variant WiBro) and 100Mbps for Long Term Evolution (LTE), each of which allows for real-time full quality Internet video over the air as well as online action games and other actions that depend on low lag and high speed. Most generational jumps in wireless technology are often several times faster than their predecessors.
The Koreans decline to give a roadmap for the technology but plan to take the lead by about 2012, which would likely see work on 5G start just after LTE-based 4G becomes available in the US through AT&T and Verizon. Spriot in turn should have 4G-class service in September after the launch of its Xohm WiMAX network near the end of 2008.