SK Telecom and Microsoft join hands on 5G, AI and cloud deployments

SK Telecom CEO Park Jung Ho (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shake hands at a recent meeting. (SK Telecom)

South Korea's SK Telecom and Microsoft have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud solutions for SK Telecom's customers.

SK Telecom and Microsoft are combining their technological capabilities across those three areas to come up with new services and applications for IoT use cases (such as smart factories), AI technologies and services, and media and entertainment services for ICT companies under the SK Group umbrella.

On the IoT smart factory front, the two companies forged a business partnership in February to launch Microsoft Azure with SK Telecom's big data solution, which is called Metatron. The two companies are working on upgrading the service as well as implementing joint marketing efforts.

The MOU also includes combining SK Telecom's AI platform, NUGU, with Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. That part of the MOU will lead to new AI-powered products and services, including consumer-facing products such as smart speakers as well as other offerings for enterprises.

SK Telecom will also be tapping into Microsoft 365 for use by its employees with plans to expand it to other ICT companies within the SK Group. In addition, the two companies will also combine Microsoft’s workplace devices and solutions, such as Surface and Office 365, with SK Telecom’s products and services.

“SK Telecom is pleased to join hands with Microsoft as collaboration with global leading companies like Microsoft is essential to gain leadership in the 5G market, where competition is already fierce,” said Park Jung-ho, President and CEO of SK Telecom, in a statement. “SK Telecom will work closely with Microsoft to create an unprecedented value by combining the strengths and capabilities of the two companies.”

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SK Telecom has been a big proponent of 5G in South Korea. Last month SK Telecom launched commercial 5G services across the country by using 34,000 5G base stations in 85 cities.

In December, SK Telecom announced it was working with Deutsche Telekom's MobiledgeX to jointly develop mobile edge computing (MEC) technologies and business models.