In less than a year after the launch of the new technology, South Korea’s 5G network now carries nearly a quarter of all wireless traffic in the country, according to the latest figures from south Korea’s telecoms regulator. Phil Kendall, an analyst at Research and Consulting Firm Analytics, has outlined 5G growth across The Country since the launch of 5G technology by South Korean operators in early 2019.
December data showed that there were 4.67 million 5G connections in South Korea, an increase of 313,000 in the month. Since August, the monthly net increase has continued to decline. The average 5G usage in November was 27.3GB, compared with 9.7GB for 4G, 0.16GB for 3G and 4GB for 2G. 5G now accounts for 21% of mobile connection traffic.
The agency points out that part of the country’s large 5G network traffic is that most of South Korea’s 5G customers sign up for unlimited data plans. Currently, more than two-thirds of 5G users in Korea use unlimited plans, far outpacing 4G and 3G users, and Korean 5G users spend an average of 33GB per month in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Currently, Three wireless network operators in South Korea, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, offer 5G services, although SK Telecom is a leader in 5G market share.
South Korea has long been a technology testing ground, thanks to a large number of technology-obsessed citizens and the government’s emphasis on innovation. In 5G, the country benefits from a wide range of cable networks for backhaul and a large number of unused, flexible mid-frequency bands, which are ideal for 5G coverage and capacity. In addition, the country’s area is about 1% of the United States and about the same size as Tennessee, making it easier for South Korean operators to reach a large population with 5G signals.
That said, given that U.S. carriers such as Verizon and AT?T don’t disclose such statistics, it’s hard to assess how the U.S. competes with South Korea in terms of 5G customers and network traffic.
Although South Korea is already ahead of the curve in 5G, China’s push for 5G will no doubt overshadow the country. Although 5G is only a few months away in China, by the end of 2019, China’s three major mobile network operators had provided 5G services in 50 cities, deployed 130,000 base stations, signed up about 10 million users and shipped 13.8 million handsets.