South Korea's regulators will start auctioning 5G-specific spectrum licenses beginning mid-year in 2018, according to reports out of the country. More directly, that is expected to center around the allocation of both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz frequency bands. The auction should occur sometime between June and October, with representatives of The Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning indicating that they are pushing to bring 5G to South Korea first. That's despite the opinions of many industry experts who stress that any timeline for next-generation network implementation and standardization is going to take much longer.
In order to approach that end goal, the regulatory ministry is said to be operating two separate task forces. That's also said to primarily be down to the fact that the current lack of a finalized allocation plan seems to be the only thing holding the proposed auction back. One of the task forces is working to create a cost calculation method that can be used to determine the appropriate pricing associated with 5G frequencies. That's a complicated task since it involves looking at likely "propagation coefficients" and several other variables. The second task force is working to determine technical standards that need to be addressed with the auction. That represents yet another incredibly difficult task since, as mentioned above, the global standards for next-generation networks are still largely preliminary, with finalized standards not expected until sometime in 2018.
The overall goal of the officials makes some sense in light of the frequency bands that are said to be going up for grabs. The 28 GHz band, in particular, has already been marked in plans from several other countries for 5G use. They also do fit with the preliminary standards which have been set. Beyond that, since the finalization of an allocation plan from the agency is expected to be completed in either late 2017 or early 2018, its timeline doesn't fall too far outside of when globally recognized standards are expected to be set. Bearing that in mind, the planned auction doesn't necessarily put any other countries out of the running for being first to implement 5G. Whether or not that can be accomplished is going to depend both on how quickly infrastructure can be put in place and how rapidly the resulting networks can be commercialized. Even if the plan fails to place South Korea first in the race to 5G, it will almost certainly keep the country near the front of the pack.