The World’s First: South Korea’s 5G Penetration Rate Is Close To 10%


South Korea's 5G penetration rate

South Korea has been at the forefront of the wave of 5G commercialization. It was the first country in the world to launch 5G commercial services. South Korea’s 5G penetration rate also ranks first in the world.

South Korea’s 5G Penetration Rate

According to data released by relevant South Korean agencies, South Korea’s 5G penetration rate reached 9.67% at the beginning of this month. As a comparison, the United States, which followed the introduction of 5G commercial services in South Korea, has a current penetration rate of 0.63%. In the United Kingdom, which started commercialization in May last year, the 5G penetration rate is 0.56%, which is not far behind South Korea.

However, South Korea, which is far ahead in terms of 5G penetration, does not have an advantage in the number of 5G users. According to data from related South Korean institutions, South Korean 5G users reached 5.77 million on April 2 and had 115,000 5G base stations. Thus, it ranked second, lower than China.

In the report, we can see that South Korea’s 5G penetration rate is far ahead in the world. It’s largely due to the large investment of telecom operators.

South Korean Carriers

In order to promote the popularization of 5G, the capital expenditures of the three major Korean telecom operators, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, increased significantly last year. It reached 8.08 trillion won (about $6.658 billion), an increase of 60% year-on-year.

South Korean telecom operators have also decided to increase their investment in 5G network construction in the first half of this year, from the previously planned 2.7 trillion won to 4 trillion won (about $3.296 billion), an increase of nearly 50%.

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South Korea's 5G penetration rate

In addition, South Korean telecom operators also plan to expand the coverage of indoor 5G base stations. They will install 5G base stations in about 2,000 locations such as subways, airports, and shopping malls.

When Did South Korea Launch 5G?

South Korea officially launched 5G commercial services on April 3 last year. At that time, the three major telecommunications operators launched 5G commercial services for individual consumers. But on December 1, 2018, they began to provide enterprise users with 5G service.

After the launch of 5G commercial services for individual consumers, South Korea’s 5G subscribers have also increased steadily. On the 69th day after the launch, that is, on June 10, South Korean 5G subscribers exceeded 1 million. In the second week of August last year (August 4-August 10), the total number exceeded 2 million. In early September, the number exceeded 3 million, In October, this indicator reached 3.98 million. Finally, in February this year, there have more than 5 million users.

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