Korean operators launch commercial 5G services

03 December 2018 | James Pearce

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Korea has become the first country to offer more than one commercial 5G network after all three of its major mobile operators switched on 5G networks simultaneously.

SKT, LG Uplus and KT all turned on fixed wireless access (FWA) networks based on 3GPP 5G standards at midnight on 1 December, offering the service to business users.

SK Telecom, which is the country’s largest wireless carrier, switched on its 5G network at an event held at its Network Management Center in Bundang. The service will initially operate in 13 cities and countries nationwide , including Seoul, four cities in Gyeonggi-do (Seongnam, An-san, Hwaseong, Siheung), six metropolitan cities, Seogwipo in Jeju Island, and Ullengdo and Dokdo Islands in Ulleng county.

As part of the demonstration, SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-Ho made a 5G call from Bundang to SK Telecom Manager Park Sook-hee located in Myeongdong, Seoul.

Park said: “5G opens doors to infinite possibilities beyond our imaginations. As the ICT leader that has spearheaded the advancement of mobile communications from CDMA to LTE, SK Telecom will once again create a new future with the best 5G network.”

Korea Telecom, which is the second largest wireless provider in Korea, also launched its 5G service, according to Yonhop News Agency, which said it will only initially offer 5G in parts of Seoul.

LG Uplus launched its service with a video call made from a PC running on the 5G network. Vice chairman Ha Hyun-hwoi made the call from the company’s spot in the Daejeon Technical Centre to an office in Seoul.  The company has unveiled plans to expand its 5G coverage to 85 cities by the end of the year.

Korea has upped pressure on operators to launch 5G and was one of the first countries to auction 5G spectrum, raising KRW3.61 trillion ($3.2 billion) in a sale of 3.5GHz and 28GHz airways in June. US operators are set to launch later this month, though again with limited deployments.