The number of 5G subscribers in South Korea is expected to hit the 1 million mark this week, Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing local industry sources. An SK Telecom executive reiterated the projection during a morning session at 5G World in London.
The rapid increase in the the country’s 5G subscribers base is driven by strong demand for 5G devices and aggressive commercial promotions by local mobile carriers, according to the report.
South Korea claimed to be the first country in the world to launch full 5G commercial services on April 5.
At the end of last week, the number of 5G subscribers in the Asian nation had reached 900,000. Meanwhile, at the end of May, 5G subscribers were approximately 778,000, a steady rise from 271,000 at the end of April.
The report also highlighted that users are complaining about the coverage and speed of the 5G services. Some of these complaints were expected in the initial stage of the commercial launch as the carriers are still building 5G base stations and upgrading software to fix technical flaws and improve network efficiency.
5G coverage in Korea is restricted to urban areas and places where there are a large number of people.
The three Korean carriers had launched limited 5G commercial services in December 2018 as part of an agreement with the ICT ministry to launch simultaneously to avoid excessive competition. The three mobile carriers initially launched the 5G service in limited areas in Seoul
In June 2018, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 megahertz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 blocks and 24 blocks.
Participant operators SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus had a 10-block cap per spectrum band. The telcos paid a total of 3.6183 trillion won ($3.3 billion) for the spectrum, 340 billion won higher than the starting price of 3.3 trillion won.
The 3.5 GHz band licenses covering a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.
Korean government says use of Huawei equipment will not affect alliance with the U.S.
In related news, South Korea’s presidential office said that the current use of equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei in South Korea’s 5G networks would have no impact on the military security of the South Korea- U.S. alliance, Korean press reported.
Korean government officials said that Huawei components currently account for less than 10% of all 5G mobile networks used in South Korea, pointing out that it is much less than the European Union and countries in Southeast Asia where Huawei represents 40% and 80%, respectively.
The officials also confirmed that the country’s military security communications network has been separated from the private communications network.
The remarks comes two days after U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris made a warning against South Korea using 5G-related Huawei products amid Washington’s sanctions on the Chinese vendor. Harris highlighted the importance of choosing a credible supplier in 5G services, saying cybersecurity of 5G networks is a key element in the protection of the allies’ communications systems.
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