July 17, 2024

IEEE honors Korea’s contribution to CDMA commercialization

PUBLISHED : June 10, 2024 - 16:59

UPDATED : June 10, 2024 - 16:59

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The IEEE Milestone plaque hangs on the facade of SK Telecom’s headquarters in Seoul. (SK Telecom)

South Korean tech firms and a local research center were recognized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, on Monday, for their significant contribution to commercializing the world's first code division multiple access network used in mobile phones in 1996.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and SK Telecom collaborated to introduce CDMA technology -- a digital mobile communication system capable of increasing call capacity more than tenfold compared to analog methods -- in response to the surge in mobile communication demand during the 1990s.

The Korean government established the mobile communication technology development management office under SK, based on ETRI’s domestically introduced CDMA technology. With active collaboration from Samsung, LG and other local terminal manufacturers, CDMA became the national standard and was commercialized here for the first time in the world.

This achievement earned the ETRI, Samsung, LG and SK a prestigious IEEE Milestone, which celebrates historical milestones in the field of electrical and electronic engineering. It marked the first time Korean entities have received the honor.

The IEEE, founded in 1884 by Thomas Edison and Graham Bell, is the world’s largest professional association for electrical and electronic engineering. Since 1983, it has been awarding the IEEE Milestone recognizing outstanding advancements in technology that benefit humanity.

Known for being one of the most prestigious awards in the ICT sector, this award has honored significant tech achievements around the world, with most of the recent awards going to tech powerhouses in North America, Europe and Japan.

Other achievements previously recognized by the IEEE Milestone include Benjamin Franklin’s experiments and observations on electricity (1751), the first wireless radio broadcast (1906), the first public demonstration of television (1926), the first semiconductor integrated circuit (1958) and the birthplace of the internet (1969).

The IEEE Milestone award ceremony took place later in the day at SK Telecom’s headquarters in Seoul. A commemorative plaque highlighting the achievement has been hung on the facade of the building.

"The commercialization of CDMA milestone recognizes the collaborative efforts and visionary spirit that brought essential technology to the world,” said IEEE President-Elect Kathleen Kramer. “IEEE is pleased to celebrate the brilliance of human ingenuity and the transformative technologies that have shaped our world and inspired generations of innovators.”

SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang expressed pride in being among the first Korean companies to be recognized by an IEEE Milestone, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of the government and businesses in achieving CDMA commercialization.

“We will pioneer the artificial intelligence ​​era with a sincere attitude that reflects on the creativity, challenge and cooperation of CDMA commercialization achieved by the government and businesses together,” he said.

By Jie Ye-eun (

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