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South Korea adds 260k 5G subscribers in one month

SK Telecom is offering super fast broadband

Sceptics will suggest consumer 5G launches will fall flat, an answer to a non-existent problem, but 260,000 subscriptions after one month suggests there is an appetite for 5G in South Korea.

Having jointly launched 5G services on April 3, the three South Korean operators are boasting total subscriptions of 260,000 according to Yonhap. This is not to say the service has been perfect, there have been plenty of problems for the telcos to deal with, but this was always going to be the case. The problem with being first is that you get to tell everyone else about the challenges.

“Many of the initial complaints raised by consumers are being addressed, but with more people using the system, other problems are expected to come to light that will require fixing,” the Ministry of Science and ICT said in a statement.

While much of the 5G attention has been directed towards the US and China, it is easy to overlook the progress which has been made in South Korea. This is the first country to have launched 5G at scale, with the Government boasting 54,202 base stations have not been deployed, up from 3,690 on April 22.

For the moment, coverage is limited to the more densely populated regions of the country, primarily in the capital Seoul, but progress is certainly impressive. Even puts the bragging telcos elsewhere to shame. South Korea has been trundling along without boasting too loudly and the success is quite clear.

Of course, what you have to remember is that scaling 5G in South Korea is a much simpler task than in other leading nations. As 5G makes use of shorter-range spectrum, network densification is a massive contributing factor to success, and you can see from the table below the task is a lot easier.

South Korea USA China
Population 51.47 million 327.17 million 1.4 billion
Land mass 100,363 km2 9,833,520 km2 9,596,961 km2
Population density 507/km2 32.8/km2 145/km2
GDP per capita $41,416 $62,518 $19,520
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