South Korea ends October with 19.4 million 5G subscribers

South Korea ended October with a total of 19.38 million subscribers in the 5G segment, local news agency Yonhap reported, citing data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

5G subscribers at the end of September had reached 18.41 million, according to the report.

5G subscribers at the end of October accounted for 27% of the total 72.15 million mobile subscriptions in the country.

The country’s largest carrier, SK Telecom, ended October with 9.13 million subscribers in the 5G segment, followed by KT with 5.92 million and LG Uplus with 4.29 million.

According to the report, the launches of Samsung Electronics Co.’s new foldable phones — the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 — in late August and release of Apple’s new iPhone 13 series in October further boosted growth in terms of 5G users.

The total number of 5G subscribers in South Korea is expected to reach 20 million by the end of 2021, given that the average monthly net additions of 5G users stood at around 720,000.

Korean operators already provide 5G coverage in 85 cities across the country, according to previous reports.

Also, the country’s ICT ministry recently found that average 5G download speeds in South Korea reached 808.45 Mbps in the first half of this year, an improvement from 690.47 Mbps in the second half of 2020.

South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via NonStandalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks. The country’s three carriers launched 5G in April 2019.

In July, the Korean government had announced it will award 28 GHz and sub-6 GHz spectrum in November to boost the use of 5G-related services across the country.

The spectrum will be available for mobile operators and for companies operating in different verticals. The ICT ministry had announced it will make available a total of 600 megahertz in the 28 GHz band and 100 megahertz in the 4.7 GHz band.

The 28 GHz band will be divided into 12 blocks and the 4.7 GHz band into 10 blocks, respectively. The spectrum in the 4.7 GHz band will be offered to non-telecom companies, according to the report.

The ministry said that the allocation of these new frequencies will allow companies to operate 5G networks across various industries and offer new service such as smart factories, healthcare, robotics and smart farms.

The Korean government also said that the 5G spectrum is expected to be allocated by the end of November.

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