South Korea ends May with almost 16 million 5G subscribers
South Korea ended May with a total of 15.84 million 5G subscribers, local newspaper Korea Herald reported, citing data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.
5G subscribers at the end of May accounted for 22% of the total 71.45 million mobile subscriptions in the country, according to the report.
The country’s largest carrier, SK Telecom, ended May with a total of 7.39 million subscribers in the 5G segment, followed by KT with 4.8 million and LG Uplus with 3.6 million.
According to the report, the growth in terms of 5G subscribers in recent months had experienced a slowdown due to the lack of new flagship devices. Samsung Electronics, the top Korean smartphone maker, is expected to launch its new foldable smartphones in August.
South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via NonStandalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks. The country’s three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are currently preparing to commercialize new 5G technology, including Standalone versions of the 5G networks and millimeter-wave 5G, according to recent reports.
The mmWave 5G service will be initially available for the business-to-business segment. Operators have not yet finalized investment plans for the business-to-consumer sector, as the cost of building additional infrastructure still represents a major issue, according to the reports.
In July of 2020, Korean mobile operators SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus agreed to invest a total of KRW 25.7 trillion ($22 billion) through 2022 to boost 5G infrastructure across the country.
Earlier this week, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT announced it will award 28 GHz and sub-6 GHz spectrum in November to boost the use of 5G-related services across the country.
The frequencies will be available for mobile operators and for companies operating in different verticals. The Korean government announced it will make available a total of 600 megahertz in the 28 GHz band and 100 megahertz in the 4.7 GHz band.
The 28 GHz band will be divided into 12 blocks and the 4.7 GHz band into 10 blocks, respectively. The spectrum in the 4.7 GHz band will be offered to non-telecom companies, according to the report.
The ministry said that the allocation of these new frequencies will allow companies to operate 5G networks across various industries and offer new service such as smart factories, healthcare, robotics and smart farms.
Interested firms will have until the end of September to apply for the new 5G spectrum. The length of the licenses ranges from two to five years. The Korean government also said that the 5G spectrum is expected to be allocated by the end of November.