Korea’s LG Uplus completes key tests for 5G SA launch


South Korean carrier LG Uplus 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.

In a statement, the operator said the tests verified the performance of evolved packet system (EPS) fallback and voice over 5G (Vo5G), and demonstrated it is ready to deliver stable and high-quality 5G voice services.

“We succeeded in securing core technologies for the commercialization of 5G standalone mode through this commercial test,” said LG Uplus’s network technology unit head Park Song-cheol.

In 2019, South Korean operators commercialized 5G mobile networks based on non-standalone (NSA) standards, using 4G infrastructure before switching to 5G standalone architecture.

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.

In January, SK Telecom said it had successfully completed a SA 5G data session on its multi-vendor commercial 5G network, which, according to the operator, paves the way for the provision of SA 5G services. The SA  5G data call took place on January 16, 2020 in Busan, the second largest city in Korea, using SK Telecom’s commercial 5G network deployed in that region.

To achieve this standalone 5G milestone, the company applied standalone New Radio (NR) software to its existing non-standalone (NSA) 5G base stations, and completed multi-vendor interoperability between network equipment of Ericsson and Samsung.

5G subscribers represented 9.4% of Korean telco LG Uplus’ overall mobile subscriber base at the end of the first quarter, the telco said in its earnings release.

The carrier said that 5G subscribers amounted to 1.45 million at the end of Q1 2020, up 24.9% compared to the previous quarter.

LG Uplus, together with rival operators SK Telecom and KT, launched commercial 5G services in Korea in April 2019.

The number of 5G subscribers in South Korea reached 6.34 million at the end of April, a year after local carriers had commercially launched this technology, Korean press reported, citing government data.

This figure represents an increase of 7.8% compared to the previous month, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Science and ICT.

SK Telecom’s 5G customers accounted for 45% of total 5G subscribers, followed by KT with 30.3% and LG Uplus with 24.7%, the ministry said.

This figures also show that 5G subscribers currently represent nearly 10% of the country’s overall mobile base.

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


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