The number of Korea’s 5G mobile service users has surpassed 4 million in one year after the first 5G commercial service was launched for enterprise customers on Dec. 1, 2018.
As of Nov. 29, eight months after the launch of 5G services for residential customers, Korea had about 4.33 million 5G subscribers. The three mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus -- are expected to have 10 million 5G subscribers next year. Considering the fact that the three operators set the goal of securing 2 million subscribers this year at the time of 5G service commercialization, they have achieved much more than their expectations.
The three carriers launched 3.5-GHz band 5G radio waves in major metropolitan cities including Seoul on Dec. 1 last year. However, the initial service was limited to enterprise customers and the world's first truly commercial 5G service for residential customers was launched at 11 p.m. on April 3 this year.
In the first place, the three mobile carriers planned to launch the world's first commercial 5G service on April 5, but Verizon of the United States moved up its 5G commercialization schedule to April 4 (local time). Korea earned bragging rights as the first country to successfully commercialize commercial 5G services in the world by a hair’s breadth. Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S10 5G model also became the world's first 5G smartphone.
Since the launch of the commercial 5G services, the three mobile carriers continued to make endeavors to develop content and enhance services. After winning the world's "first" title this year, they have been working tirelessly to deliver the world's best 5G services with killer contents and services.
SK Telecom has made remarkable achievements in new businesses such as 5G cluster and 5GX Boost Park, a cluster for main business areas and AR and VR services. In particular, SK Telecom is elevating Korea’s status as an ICT power by exporting or transferring quantum cryptographic telecommunication technology to the United States and the EU and 5G commercialization technology to Germany, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines.
KT is focusing more on B2B rather than B2C. Recently, the company signed a strategic business agreement with major partners to apply 5G technology to various B2B areas such as smart factories, autonomous driving, smart medical services and media.
LG U+ will launch U+ 5G service 3.0 in the first half of next year. The new service will include education and game services that integrate cloud computing, AR, and VR.
The three carriers are planning to build nationwide coverage networks in the 3.5 GHz band which has wide radio coverage first and additionally utilize the 28 GHz band which is faster in urban areas. However, 5G smartphones currently released in the Korean market are compatible with the 3.5 ㎓ band only. It is undecided whether a smartphone that supports both 28 GHz and 3.5 GHz will be released in Korea. Smartphone industry observers say that it will be possible to predict smartphone manufacturers’ moves and directions only after the actual commercialization of the 28 GHz band.