South Korea’s three mobile operators – SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT Corp – switched on their respective 5G networks at midnight on 1 December, local press reports have confirmed. The new networks are currently restricted to enterprise customers however, with a consumer-focused service not expected to go live until March 2019, when compatible smartphones become available.
SK Telecom’s ‘5GX’ service is said to be available in parts of Seoul, the Seoul Metropolitan Area, and six major cities. Myunghwa – an auto part company based in Banwol Industrial Complex, Ansan, Gyeonggi Province – will become its first 5G customer. Myunghwa will use SK Telecom’s 5G-AI machine vision service to check the quality of auto part products. Usage fees will vary depending on the customised service sought by the telco’s enterprise customers.
LG Uplus is targeting 7,000 5G base stations in service by the end of December, having already deployed 4,100 5G cell sites in eleven cities including Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Bucheon, Goyang, Gwangmyeong, Hanam and other cities in Gyeonggi Province. Going forward, LG Uplus expects to adapt its 5G service for use in the remote controlling of heavy equipment and agricultural machines, drones, CCTV, smart factories and smart cities.
Finally, KT presided over a smaller 5G launch in Gwacheon as it continues to recover network capabilities following a major fire at a facility in Seoul.