Global leading mobile telecom companies started to work to secure competitive 5G terminals prior to the commercialization of 5G mobile services next year.
In the 5G era, smartphones are expected to take the lead in blooming 5G-based services in various sectors including smart homes, smart factories, smart cities, and autonomous cars.
According to market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA), Korea's 5G penetration rate is expected to be the highest in the world by standing at 5.5% in 2019 and 10.9% in 2020.
In Korea, 5G mobile services were commercialized on Dec. 1. Samsung Electronics is expected to launch a 5G smartphone in cooperation with Korean mobile carriers in March next year. LG Electronics is also expected to launch a 5G smartphones in the first half of 2019.
Currently, the U.S., China, and Japan among others are also accelerating the commercialization of 5G mobile services. In the U.S., 5G smartphone penetration is projected to be 0.4% in 2019 and 4.7% in 2020. In Japan, it is expected to hit 1.1% in 2019 and 5.2% in 2020. China is expected to reach a rate of 0.4% in 2019 and 2.8% in 2020. All of these nations are not expected to eclipse Korea in terms of 5G smartphone penetration.
In the early period of the 5G market, securing high-quality smartphones is expected to hold the key to attracting customers. The 5G market is expected to bloom fully after 2021 but, to take the market leadership in the long term, it is important to take the lead in the early stage. Korean mobile service operators are reportedly coordinating timing to launch 5G smartphones while working closely with Samsung Electronics.
Major U.S. carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint plan to launch Samsung Electronics' 5G smartphone in the first half of next year. In addition, AT&T said that it would release Samsung's second 5G smartphone in the second half of next year.
China Mobile, the largest mobile operator in China, recently unveiled its 5G smart hub terminal. Qualcomm's 5G chip was loaded into this smart terminal, which can exchange data through 5G networks. If a consumer uses this smart hub terminal at home, they will be able to control various household appliances.
The Chinese government recently issued licenses for nationwide 5G pilot services to three mobile carriers including China Mobile and China Unicom.
Japan, a robotics powerhouse, is stepping up its efforts to apply 5G networks to robots. NTT DoCoMo recently worked with Toyota to implement a 5G network with a humanoid robot unveiled last year and recently demonstrated its ability to remotely control the robot from a distance of up to 10km.