Microwave Journal

South Korea Hits 3M 5G Subs as Base Stations Double

September 24, 2019

South Korea surpassed the 3 million 5G subscriber mark on September 9, with coverage expected to reach 93 percent of the population by the end of the year.

Lee Kang-yong, deputy director of ICT and Broadcasting Technology Policy Division at Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT, said operators continue to expand coverage across the country, targeting service in all major cities and the surrounding areas. They also are focused on improving indoor coverage.

Just five months after simultaneously launching 5G service in early April, the country’s mobile operators have more than 90,000 5G base stations, nearly double the number installed at launch, he said. Users have a choice of two 5G smartphone models from Samsung and one from LG.

After seeing a rise in complaints about the quality of service soon after the 5G launch, Lee said the government set up a joint private-public taskforce to investigate and solve technical and coverage issues. It has seen a drop in complaints since the working group was established.

He said tests show all three operators delivered 5G speeds of more than 1 Gb/s.


To support 5G network investment, the government offers operators a tax credit of 1 percent to 3 percent for a two-year period to reduce their capex burden. It also provides financial support in the form of loans and funds for innovative 5G start-ups.

The operators spent about $3 billion on spectrum in the 3.5 and 28 GHz bands.

To encourage the development of 5G products, the government set up 23 5G tests beds focused on five sectors, such as devices, V2X and drones.

The government estimates the country will generate KRW130 trillion ($109 billion) from the production of goods in 5G-related industries by 2026, or 15 percent of the global market share.