Nokia has begun to deliver its 5G communications equipment to SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ this month, three months behind schedule. The three mobile carriers have received 1,000 to 4,000 units of the equipment so far whereas some have received 30,000 to 40,000 units from Samsung Electronics during the same period.
A bigger problem is that Nokia’s equipment is lower in quality than those supplied by Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Huawei. The former has shown some problems in interoperability testing and massive traffic processing. A wide use of the equipment is likely to become possible in the second half of this year after performance verification and stabilization.
The South Korean mobile carriers’ efforts for 5G network expansion are being hindered by the equipment. At present, they use different suppliers’ 5G systems in different regions. For example, SK Telecom uses Nokia systems in the Jeolla and Gangwon provinces, KT in the Jeolla and Chungcheong provinces, and LG U+ in the Gyeongsang provinces. Their 5G services in the regions may remain unstable for longer than expected.
Under the circumstances, KT is installing Samsung systems as substitutes in the Jeolla and Chungcheong provinces. As of April 17, Samsung and Nokia systems accounted for 65 percent and 35 percent of KT’s 5G communications equipment in the region, respectively. SK Telecom and LG U+ may follow suit.