Korea launches 5G smartphone networks ahead of schedule

Korea launches 5G smartphone networks ahead of schedule

South Korea's telecommunications carriers on Wednesday have turned on super-fast 5G mobile internet networks abruptly ahead of schedule in an attempt to ensure the country becomes the first in the world to launch the services.

Samsung was the first to unwrap a 5G phone in February when it unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G and a almost $2,000 folding smartphone, putting the world's top smartphone maker by volume in pole position in the 5G race, some analysts say.

It has data transmission speeds 20 times faster than the current 4G long-term evolution (LTE) wireless technology.

The new 5G technology enables dramatically faster download speeds with nearly no delay in watching videos or loading pictures.

Japan is also expected to roll out a limited deployment in 2019 before full services start in time for next year's Tokyo Olympics. The news agency Yonhap said there is speculation that due to the launch of late 5G services by South Korean companies, USA telecom company Verizon was forced to launch its 5G services early.

With that said, the special 5G edition of Galaxy S10 has now been made available for purchase in South Korea and unfortunately, we don't know the exact date for when the smartphone is going to arrive in the US, Europe or Asia.

Verizon's unexpected move prompted the Ministry of Science and ICT and the three Korean mobile operators to decide to receive the first subscriptions to their 5G smartphone services at 11 p.m., April 3. "Electronic companies like Samsung, the factories, production lines, contents that goes inside 5G phones ... they believe everything that is constituting the IT ecosystem will meet a new era under 5G network".

The implications of the new network have pitted Washington against Beijing - whose firms dominate 5G technology - in an increasingly bitter standoff.

Forbes reported that SK Telecom has installed 35,000 5G base stations and this will give significant coverage for Seoul. The faster networks would also improve live broadcasts and streaming services for music and video while allowing for a broader range of virtual reality services, the companies say.

South Korea's launch this week of national fifth-generation wireless services is about more than just bragging rights. The US carrier lacks actual 5G phones and can only offer the high-speed services to customers with a Motorola Z3 handset who pay $50 extra for a Snap-on module.

More than three million South Koreans will switch to 5G by the end of this year, predicted KT vice-president Lee Pil Jae. Nationwide mobile 5G service in the United States is not expected until at least 2020.

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