South Korea reaches 260,000 5G users

(Image credit: SKT) (Image credit: SK Telecom)

There are already 260,000 5G subscribers in South Korea, just a month after next generation mobile services went live in the country.

The desire within South Korea, one of the world’s most advanced mobile nations, to be a leader in 5G was so great that the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT coordinated a simultaneous launch between three major operators.

South Korea 5G

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus all switched on their 5G networks in December, mainly serving enterprise customers before SK Telecom launched its mobile service in early April this year.

However, the initial launch has been greeted by complaints about coverage and speed. The Ministry has confirmed that there are currently 54,202 5G-enabled base stations in the country, but coverage is limited to urban areas at present.

Although the spectrum being used for 5G networks has far greater capacity than the bands used for 4G, it also has a shorter range. This means operators have to densify their networks with more sites, including microinfrastructure like small cells.

"Many of the initial complaints raised by consumers are being addressed, but with more people using the system, other problems are expected to come to light that will require fixing," the Ministry of Science and ICT is quoted as saying.

Verizon launched the world’s first 5G network in the US last year and plans to offer services later this year. Meanwhile, all four UK operators have confirmed they will launch 5G networks in 2019.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.