The number of 5G subscribers in South Korea hit the 2 million mark this week, four months after local carriers commercially launched the technology, local press reported citing data from the industry.
So far, SK Telecom is leading the Korean 5G market with 840,000 subscribers, followed by KT with 630,000 and LG Uplus with 540,000.
By mid-June, 5G subscribers in the Asian country had reached 1 million.
Adoption of 5G technology in South Korea is faster than initially expected, as industry officials and analysts had anticipated that 5G subscriptions wouldn’t reach the 2 million mark until around the end of 2019.
The rapid increase in the the country’s 5G subscribers base is driven by strong demand for 5G devices and aggressive commercial promotions by local mobile carriers, according to the report.
South Korea claimed to be the first country in the world to launch full 5G commercial services on April 3.
Growth is expected to continue in the second half of this year, as more 5G phones become available in the coming months. Samsung plans to launch its Galaxy Note 10 later this month and the Galaxy Fold in late September, which will be only 5G models available on the local market.
LG is also expected to unveil its new flagship smartphone with a dual display and 5G connectivity in September.
Earlier this week, SK Telecom’s CFO Poong-Young Yoon said in a conference call with investors that the carrier expects to reach 1 million subscribers in the 5G segment during August.The operator ended June with 530,000 5G subscribers and aims to end this year with over 2 million subscribers in that segment.
5G coverage in Korea is restricted to urban areas and places where there are a large number of people.
The three Korean carriers launched limited 5G commercial services in December 2018 as part of an agreement with the ICT ministry to launch simultaneously to avoid excessive competition. The three mobile carriers initially launched the 5G service in limited areas in Seoul
In June 2018, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 MHz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 MHz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 and 24 blocks.
Participant operators SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus had a 10-block cap per spectrum band. The telcos paid a total of 3.6183 trillion won ($3.3 billion) for the spectrum, 340 billion won higher than the starting price of 3.3 trillion won.
The 3.5 GHz band licenses covering a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.