South Korea launches world's first national 5G networks

Apr 07, 2019, 00:29
South Korea launches world's first national 5G networks

South Korea launched the world's first nationwide 5G mobile networks two days early, its top mobile carriers said Thursday, in a late-night scramble to be the first providers of the super-fast wireless technology.

Americans did not wait till the availability of 5G smartphones in 2019 and they launched 5G broadband for home customers and 5G on hotspots in 2018.

Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G allows users to reach internet speeds of up to 20 times faster than with the current 4G network standard. "We also thought that we should not make useless painstaking efforts made for more than three years by the government and those in the telecommunication industry to make Korea the first country to commercialize 5G services in the world". When Korea finally launched the 5G mobile services on April 3, Americans claimed they had started using 5G services on a "5G-enabled smartphone" from Lenovo-owned Motorola.

South Korean telcos reportedly began offering 5G services at 11 PM local time on Wednesday.

In Japan, 5G is expected to become available in some parts of the country in the summer at the earliest.

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The implications of the new network have pitted Washington against Beijing - whose firms dominate 5G technology - in an increasingly bitter standoff.

South Korea has jumped to the forefront of global competition over next-generation 5G network services.

The telecoms have been in a fierce fight with their U.S. rivals.

South Korean carriers have spent billions on campaigns marketing 5G and, on Wednesday, SK Telecom showed off K-pop stars and an Olympic gold medallist as its first 5G customers.

The company showcased virtual reality devices, a pair of augmented reality glasses called Magic Leap One and the hologram-combined artificial intelligence platform NUGU at the shop, all of which will be enabled by its 5G network.

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By Friday afternoon, 15,000 buyers had subscribed to the LG UPlus 5G service, and more than 10,000 to KT's offer, the carriers said.

Neither KT nor SK Telecom use Huawei technology in their 5G networks, but it is a supplier to LG UPlus, the companies told AFP.

Verizon's system will work with Lenovo's Moto Z3 smartphone, while rival United States carrier AT&T deployed what it called its 5G E network in 12 cities a year ago - although it is slower than other 5G systems and questions have been raised over whether it is fully fifth-generation.

Why this matters: People are mostly excited about the promise of ultra-fast 5G speeds: 500 to 1,500 megabits per second.

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