South Korea Launches Commerical 5G Network

Judy Cobb
April 9, 2019

Hyper-wired South Korea has for long had a reputation for technical prowess and Seoul has made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to revive shattering economic growth.

With 5G, users can exchange large amounts of data and quickly download ultra-high definition 4K and 8K images.

"I don't think we have a security issue in South Korea", Park Jin-hyo, head of SK Telecom's information and communication tech research center, told reporters.

However, speculation that USA mobile carrier Verizon might start its 5G services early forced South Korean providers to hastily organise a late-night launch, the Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korea's top telecom companies SK Telecom, KT and LG U plus launched 5G services at 11 pm local time on Wednesday.

In Japan, 5G is expected to become available in some parts of the country in the summer at the earliest.

South Korea has demonstrated its technology credentials after it claimed it was the first country in the world to commercially launch a 5G network.

The only device available at launch will be the Samsung S10 5G phone.

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As we all know, Samsung is a South Korean based hardware manufacturer and therefore, it should come as no surprise that the company's biggest fan base is in South Korea.

Through the placement of small boxes that serve as conduits for invisible, data-transmitting radio waves, 5G networks could power a wide range of consumer devices, leading to smartphones that can stream Netflix videos more quickly as well as enabling the arrival of self-driving cars.

Galaxy S10 5G, the world's first available smartphone using 5G solutions, was launched by Samsung Electronics.

World estimates predict that 5G service will generate incomes by 2035 $3.5 billion United States dollars and 22 million jobs worldwide. Sometimes, it can also offer 100 times faster speeds.

Smaller rival KT Corp said it will offer cheaper 5G plans than its LTE service, with unlimited data and four-year installments to buy 5G devices.

Cost is likely to be a barrier initially for user uptake, analysts say, as the cheapest version of the new Galaxy handset will be priced at 1.39 million won ($1,200).

None of South Korea's three network operators would say how much they have invested in 5G, but Seoul's economy minister Hong Nam-ki estimate it would be at least $2.6 billion this year alone.

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