South Korea reaches 8 million 5G subscribers at end-July

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South Korea’s 5G users reached 7.86 million in July, up 487,190 from the previous month, according to the latest data from the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT.

5G subscribers accounted for 11.3% of the 69.8 million mobile subscriptions in South Korea.

The country’s 4G users still accounted for the vast majority of mobile subscriptions at 54.9 million in July, down just 15,054 compared to the previous month.

Korean carriers initially launched 5G services in April last year.

SK Telecom ended June with a 5G subscriber base of 3.35 million, with the addition of 700,000 new 5G subscribers during the second quarter.

Meanwhile, rival carrier KT expressed confidence that it will achieve the target of closing 2020 with 3.5 million 5G subscribers.

KT added 459,000 5G subscribers during fiscal Q2, taking its total to 2.34 million, with penetration rate of 15.7%.

Meanwhile, LG Uplus ended the second quarter with 1.78 million subscribers in the 5G segment, representing 16% of the carrier’s overall mobile base.

Despite being one of the most advanced markets in terms of 5G deployments, 5G networks in South Korea are currently showing poorer results than initially expected, with their download speeds and connection far lower than what telecom operators have initially claimed, Korean press reported, citing an assessment report carried out by the government.

5G subscribers have been complaining of the network’s lower-than-expected speed and unstable connectivity.

The average download speed on 5G networks run by the country’s three mobile carriers — SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus,  stood at 656.6 Mbps, just four times faster than the average 4G LTE speed of 158.5 Mbps, according to the report compiled by Korea’s ICT ministry.

According to the report, KT and LG Uplus have advertised their 5G network data speed as 20 times faster than the 4G LTE network.

The assessment report was conducted in capital Seoul and six other major cities. The country’s 5G networks currently operate through non-standalone (NSA) 5G architecture.

SK Telecom recorded the fastest download speeds of up to 788.97 Mbps, followed by KT at 652.1 Mbps and LG Uplus at 528.6 Mbps.

The government recently said that local operators had already deployed over 115,000 5G base stations across the country.

In March, the Korean government said that the country’s three major telecom carriers had agreed to invest KRW 4 trillion ($3.4 billion) in their 5G networks during the first half of this year.  Operators agreed to heavily invest to install additional 5G equipment with the aim of expanding the coverage of current 5G networks across the country.

Korean carriers are also paving the way to offer 5G via standalone networks. LG Uplus previously said it had completed tests of core technologies supporting voice service running on a standalone (SA) 5G network as the carrier expects to launch 5G based on SA architecture later this year.

Rival operators SK Telecom and KT have also carried out tests of 5G SA networks and aim to launch this technology during the second half of this year, according to previous reports.



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