If we can have any meaningful 5G survey, it should be in South Korea where we already have millions using this network. Korea Telecom recently announced its first year of mobile business growth in the past seven quarters. This is largely due to the rapid spread of 5G services and the continuous increase in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Yoon Kyung-keun, Chief Financial Officer of Korea Telecom, said that 85% of 5G users subscribe to top-level unlimited traffic packages.
In Q3, Korea Telecom’s mobile business revenue increased by 1% to 1.66 trillion won ($1.43 billion). Although its ARPU value decreased by 0.4% year-on-year to 31,912 won ($27), it increased by 0.5% from the previous month. Thus achieving three consecutive quarters of growth. There is also an increase in revenue by 4.5% to 6.21 trillion won ($5.3 billion). However, the net income fell 10.9% to 213 billion won ($183 million), due to a surge in capital expenditures and a 23.4% increase in marketing expenses.
As of the end of September, the operator had 1.06 million 5G users. This accounts for 4.8% of its total of 21.77 million users, an increase of 6.8%. It predicts that there will be 1.5 million 5G users by the end of the year. As users migrate to the next generation network, the total number of 4G users is decreasing. Between March and now, 4G has lost 22,000 users.
In the first three quarters, the operator’s capital expenditure reached 2.1 trillion won ($1.8 billion), exceeding the total of 1.98 trillion won ($1.6 billion) in 2018. The wireless access network accounts for 72% of the total expenditure, and it deploys 63,000 5G base stations, covering 85 cities.