Published: Sun, April 07, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

South Korea Stutters Towards a National 5G Launch on Friday

South Korea Stutters Towards a National 5G Launch on Friday

South Korea's three mobile carriers and top USA telco Verizon Communications commercially launched 5G services on Wednesday, ahead of their initial schedules, as they rushed for first spot in the race to roll out the latest wireless technology.

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.

SK Telecom, the nation's largest operator, is expecting to offer new cellular plans for up to 1 million customers by the end of the year, many of whom will be using Samsung's industry-first 5G-enabled Galaxy S10.

South Korean competitor, LG plans to bring out its first 5G model later this month.

"We have proved again that South Korea is the strongest country in information and communications", Science and ICT Minister Yoo Young-min said in a statement after a small number of people selected by three mobile carriers opened 5G mobile phone accounts Wednesday night.

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Countries including South Korea, the US, China and Japan are racing to market 5G, hoping the technology will spur breakthroughs in fields such as smart cities and autonomous cars. Rather than getting bogged down in the arguments back and forth (fun though that is), focus on the main takeaway: 5G services are starting to launch.

According to experts, communication technology will allow the nearly instantaneous connection in mobile phones, that is, 20 times faster than with the previous generation, so users can download movies in less than one second.

Telecom giant Samsung Electronics on Friday released the Galaxy S10 5G, the world's first available smartphone with built-in fifth-generation communications, as South Korea seeks to build a lead in the transformative technology. - The world's biggest smartphone and memory chip maker Samsung Electronics warned of a 60 percent-plus plunge in first-quarter operating profits on April 5, in the face of a weakening chip market. The carriers had initially planned to start their 5G services on Friday, but moved up to stay ahead of Verizon.

On a true 5G network, richer mobile experiences are possible. Smaller carrier LG Uplus uses Huawei gear. There is also a more powerful Galaxy S10 that ships with support for 5G technology and the smartphone has finally launched, but there's a catch here.

Forbes reported that SK Telecom has installed 35,000 5G base stations and this will give significant coverage for Seoul.

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