The world’s first-ever nationwide 5G mobile network began selectively in South Korea in 2018 and was made available to all consumers in April 2019. Following the launch, the super-fast wireless was availed by over 1.6 million people towards the end of June. A few months later, how do the South Korean citizens react to this technology?
FREMONT, CA: The entire tech world is talking about 5G. The 5G was perceived as a technology that can impart an enhanced level of high-speed connection which would enable high-end IT services, including autonomous driving, AR/VR, and artificial intelligence.
To be precise, 5G was officially launched in December 2018 but only to a few consumers. It was in April 2019 that 5G networks went live for general customers as well.
The initial excitement was paramount. Early indications, gathered towards the end of June, indicate that the lower latency and enhanced speeds were already leading to changes in customer behavior. Moreover, the adoption rate was high for new use cases and services.
It has been almost six months into the 5G deployment in the country. There is an interest across the globe to know whether the 5G has been really successful across the South Korean region.
5G in South Korea
The April launch was widely awaited by the nation. Within about 69 days, more than 1 million subscribers had opted for 5G. On comparison with the earlier 4G, it took almost 80 days to achieve this feat. The statistics were confirmed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, South Korea. So, the technology was received eagerly. The ministry also said that by 2020, about 30 percent of the nation’s mobile users would gain access to 5G networks. Also, the ministry is hopeful that by the year 2026, about 90% of coverage can be achieved.
5G is being made available through the following carriers: SK Telecom Corp, which presently occupies 40% share in the 5G market. LG Uplus Corp, another carrier has about 30 percent of shares and KT Corp; another 5G enabler holds the rest of 30%.
Even before 5Gs deployment, there were concerns among mobile operators that its real potential may not be entirely understood by consumers to justify the enormous cost involved in implementation. However, the initial reports were highly promising.
The operators were extending some offers as well. SK Telecom, as an example, has found the most significant 5G base in South Korea. The firm attributes the success to their offering such as unlimited data package. However, about 100 days into the service, towards July, Financial Times reported that the subscribers were complaining of poor quality and even slow connections. Then, the majority of the 5G base stations were in Seoul Metropolitan. Many felt the governments need to urgently expand the 5G coverage and set up base stations outside the Seoul metropolitan location.
Also, many mobile customers continue to use LTE networks despite being a 5G subscriber. LTE doesn’t drain off the phone battery quickly, which is a possibility in 5G technology. Some functions were found to perform better on LTE as well. Under these circumstances, the operators found it necessary to work on the 5G latency issues.
However, reports collected in August indicated positive results with South Korean 5G subscribers crossing the 2 million mark. Also, SK Telecom exclusively reported having 1 million 5G subscribers. The firm looks forward to reaching 2 million subscribers by the end of 2019.
The operator also announced that their network was secured through the application of quantum cryptography technologies to minimize the risks associated with eavesdropping or hacking. This announcement comes amidst raising concerns among the public regarding data security in a 5G network.
Another operator KT is all set to expand its network into eighty-five significant cities across the nation. Their system will be covering the critical transportation routes and in turn to university hospitals, public offices, and subways.
For LG Uplus, there were about 540,000 5G subscribers. The operator was running about 50,000 base stations in Seoul and the neighboring areas. Their network covers a few metropolitan cities as well.
So, there have been changes, and the 5G is already on an expansion mode across the nation.