The world’s first commercial 5G smartphone services starts April 5 in South Korea.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have been in tough competition to secure wider coverage for fifth-generation (5G) networks ahead of the launch of the commercial next-generation mobile network service.
Telecom companies here are scheduled to begin the world’s first commercial 5G smartphone services from April 5.
The three companies have competitively announced or plan to make known the number of base stations they have built, vowing to offer the fastest mobile network service with the widest coverage.
On Tuesday, KT said it has built 15,000 5G base stations in Seoul and will build 30,000 5G by April 5.
The firm said during a news conference that it is aiming to offer the nation’s widest 5G network coverage, noting the high-end service will be available in 85 major cities nationwide by the end of the year.
For its part, LG Uplus said Wednesday that it has built 18,000 5G base stations in Seoul and surrounding areas as well as some metropolitan cities, noting that it plans to build 50,000 base stations within the first half of the year.
“Beginning with Seoul, surrounding areas and some metropolitan cities, we will build additional base stations in major cities and expand the coverage to 85 towns and counties to keep our competitiveness in 5G networks,” an official from LG Uplus said.
With the two firms having flamed the rivalry in securing wider coverage for 5G networks, the top mobile carrier, SK Telecom, is also planning to soon unveil its 5G service strategy, including present base station status.
An official from SK Telecom refused to disclose details of its base stations for now, but the company is expected to offer the widest coverage for super-fast 5G connectivity.
Competition among the three companies is expected to continue even after 5G smartphones are released as their current coverage for 5G networks is mostly centered on Seoul and other big cities.
The possibility is also being raised that users would be unable to access 5G services if, for example, they are inside buildings within the area where 5G base stations are installed.
Industry officials expect construction of nationwide 5G networks to be completed sometime in 2022 or 2023, given that it took about four years for third-generation and fourth-generation, or LTE networks to be set up nationwide.
Seo Chang-seok, head of KT’s network strategy unit, said, “We will be able to have up to 80 percent nationwide coverage with 5G by the end of the year.”