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Technology

S. Korea aims to launch 5G across the country as network speeds up in H2

  • Among the top three networks, SK Telecom had the fastest average download speed at 795.57 Mbps, followed by KT at 667.48 Mbps and LG Uplus at 608.49 Mbps.
  • South Korea currently offers the non-standalone version of 5G, requiring support from 4G LTE.
Updated 31 Dec 2020

South Korea’s 5G download speed and overall quality improved in the second half of the year as country aims to deploy the latest network nationwide.

According to Ministry of Science and ICT data, the average download speed from the country's three major mobile carriers – SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. – stood at 690.47 megabits per second (Mbps) in the second half of the year as compared to 33.91 Mbps recorded in the first half.

Among the top three networks, SK Telecom had the fastest average download speed at 795.57 Mbps, followed by KT at 667.48 Mbps and LG Uplus at 608.49 Mbps.

The 4G LTE download speed reached 153.1 Mbps in the country, which is four times slower than the latest 5G speed.

South Korea was the first country to commercialise 5G in April last year and has quickly built up a significant 5G user base of nearly 10 million as of end-October.

However, the network has faced quality issues such as limited coverage and slower-than-expected speeds, which led to more than half a million 5G users to switch back to 4G LTE through August this year.

The latest report found that the network's quality and accessibility improved compared to the first half of the year.

South Korea currently offers the non-standalone version of 5G, requiring support from 4G LTE.

The number of subway stations across the country equipped with 5G network by the three carriers rose to 424 on average as of November, compared to 313 in July.

It was also reported that 5G coverage by three carriers in malls, theaters and hospitals by the three reached 3,486 on average across 85 cities. The country is aiming for nationwide 5G coverage by 2022, and the three major carriers have promised to spend up to 25.7 trillion won (US$24 billion) in total to update network infrastructure by that year.