South Korea renowned for its technological prowess and progressive approach to emerging technologies has secured a world first following the launch of its nationwide 5G mobile network.
South Korea’s three major telecommunication operators collaborated on the project after it was asked by the government to work together in an effort to accelerate the deployment of their 5G networks.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus all announced the launch which led to a late-night scramble that enabled a handful of users to access the new super-fast wireless technology. The commencement of the 5G services was launched at 11pm local time and was two days early ahead of the scheduled launch which was April 5th, catching many off guard.
Seoul has prioritized 5G as sees it as its best opportunity to stimulate its stuttering economy which has seen its GDP stagnate in recent years. South Korea along with the US, China and Japan had all been in a race to claim the title as the world’s first provider of the ultra-fast network. The victory is being seen as a huge coup by many ICT leaders in South Korea.
The reason it launched two days ahead of schedule was due to mounting speculation that US telecommunications behemoth Verizon was set to launch its 5G services which prompted a frenzied response from South Korean operators desperate to be the first.
Verizon began rolling out its 5G services in Chicago and Minneapolis on Wednesday in the US, a week ahead of schedule.
SK Telecom today announced that it has activated 5G services for six celebrities representing Korea as of 11 pm April 3, 2019," the country's biggest mobile operator said in a news release Thursday.
Celebrities including two members of K-pop band EXO and Olympic ice-skating heroine Kim Yu-na -- were the world's first 5G smartphone subscribers according to the statement.
Both KT and LG Uplus said they also went live at the same time, with a total of three specially-selected users: KT offered it to the wife of a technician setting up its network on the disputed island of Dokdo - while LG Uplus provided it to a well-known television personality and her racing-driver husband.
For general customers it has been announced that the services will be available from Friday -- the original launch date -- when Samsung Electronics rolls out the Galaxy S10 5G, the world's first available smartphone with the technology built in.