Hot on the heels of the announcement of their respective 5G tariffs earlier this week, all three of South Korea’s mobile network operators (MNOs) – SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus – have now reportedly launched commercial services to consumers.
While an official launch had not been expected until 5 April 2019, the Ministry of Science and ICT has reportedly confirmed that the MNOs officially began making services available to end-users from 11pm local time (2pm GMT) yesterday (3 April). Amid suggestions that the decision to move up the launch had come after US-based Verizon revealed it was bringing forward its own planned 5G launch, Reuters cited SK Telecom spokesperson Irene Kim as saying it had elected to go live after internal discussions established that both its infrastructure and customers were ready for the switch-on of commercial services.
In terms of initial availability, mobile market leader SK Telecom said earlier this week that it was aiming to have ‘the widest 5G network coverage’ in the country at launch, with the operator having confirmed that by 2 April it had constructed a total of 34,000 5G base stations. It noted that these had been rolled out in ‘data traffic-concentrated areas’, including the main areas of 85 cities nationwide, as well as university districts, sports stadiums, highways, subway lines (Seoul and Seoul Metropolitan Area) and beaches. Looking ahead, SKT has said it aims to expand 5G coverage to ‘nationwide subways, national parks and festival sites’ in the second half of 2019.