South Korea launches 5G networks early to secure world first

South Korea first to roll out 5G services, beating U.S. and China

SK Telecom, KT and LGU+, South Korea's three mobile carriers, commercially launched 5G services on Wednesday - utilizing the availability of Galaxy S10 5G.

But speculation that U.S. mobile carrier Verizon might start its 5G services early forced South Korean providers to hastily organize a late-night launch, Yonhap news agency reported.

Verizon was due to roll out the technology in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11, and said last month customers could use 5G on Motorola's Z3 and a "Moto Mod", a physical magnet-like attachment for the phone.

Reportedly, the 5G technology would offer twenty times greater data speeds than the 4G LTE networks and would better support virtual reality and artificial intelligence with low latency.

Sometimes it can offer 100-times faster speeds.

According to market speculations, South Korea recognized itself as the first nation to debut 5G, but US mobile firms did not agree to this, claiming that they had rolled out 5G services in limited regions as early as previous year.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus all announced their first subscribers, who all bought the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

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This picture taken on April 3, 2019 shows the Galaxy S10 5G smartphones belonging to LG Uplus' first 5G subscribers, model Kim Min-young (L) and auto racer Seo Joo-won (R), during a launching ceremony in Seoul.

Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Telecom, talks up the operator's 5G offering on Wednesday at what SKT called the "beginning of the Age of Hyper-Innovation with 5G" at the company's 5G Launching Showcase.

It said while it took more than a minute to download 12GB of VR content on a 5G network alone, it took only 36 seconds to download the same content on its 4G-5G aggregated network.

The 5G phone service - for a handful of celebrities including Yuna Kim, the Olympic medalist in figure skating, Baekhyun from k-pop boy band EXO - was launched Wednesday at 11 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST). The service was launched ahead of the United States, Japan and China.

Commercialising 5G gives South Korea the chance to build around the technology, which is crucial for the future development of devices such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.

But SK Telecom officials said it was likely there will be an open auction for network equipment makers including Huawei if South Korea needs more base stations for higher frequencies.

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