Under the partnership, the partners will jointly develop low-power 5G small cells capable of supporting both the 3.5-GHz and 28-GHz 5G frequencies.
Announcing the project, the companies said small cells are expected to be in high demand to overcome the high propagation loss of 28-GHz spectrum and its poor penetration through walls.
ETRI is a Korean government-funded research institution focused on research into wireless communication. The non-profit institution has filed more than 2,500 patents for technologies including LTE-Advanced and Terrestrial DMB communications.
"This project is a good opportunity to make use of SK Telecom and ETRI's high level of technology and Contela will keep developing products focusing on commercialization," Contela CTO Jaewoong Chung said.
He said that through the project Contela expects to be able to minimize the time-to-market for 5G small cell products, as well as to better compete in the budding 5G equipment industry, both domestically and overseas.
Contela recently helped support SK Telecom's rollout of a nationwide LoRa IoT network, with the company providing the gateways and network servers for the deployment.