South Korea will become the first country to commercially launch fifth-generation — or 5G — services tomorrow as it rolls out the latest wireless technology with Samsung Electronics’ new 5G-enabled smartphone Galaxy S10.
With one of the world’s top smartphone penetration rates, South Korea is in a race with China, the US, and Japan to market 5G, hoping the technology will spur breakthrough in fields such as smart cities and autonomous cars, and drive up its economic growth that slowed to a six-year low in 2018.
Ryu Young-sang, executive vice president at the country’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom said:
It is meaningful that South Korean telecom companies are providing services and networks meeting South Korean customers’ high standard in speed and picture quality
The technology can offer data speeds 20 times faster than 4G long-term evolution networks. South Korean carriers have spent billions on campaigns marketing 5G.
SK Telecom is working with its memory-chip making affiliate SK Hynix to build a highly digitised and connected factory powered by 5G technology. The operator expects about one million 5G customers by the end of 2019. It has a total of 27m users.
Samsung was the first to unwrap a 5G phone in February when it unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G and a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone, putting the world’s top smartphone maker by volume in pole position in the 5G race, according to analysts.
While security concerns over 5G networks using telecom equipment made by China’s Huawei have marred the buildup to the release of these services, South Korean telecoms have tried to shrug them off.