Korean carrier SK Telecom expects to reach 1 million subscribers in the 5G segment in August, the company’s CFO Poong-Young Yoon said on a conference call with investors.
The operator, which launched commercial 5G services on April 3, ended June with 530,000 5G subscribers, the executive said.
He also said that the rapid growth in terms of 5G subscriber acquisition will allow the company to end this year with over 2 million subscribers in that segment.
“So it is indeed increasing at a faster pace than we had first expected,” he said. “And in 2020, considering current trends continue, we expect that numbers to reach 7 million subscribers. So going forward, we will continue to achieve subscriber growth by providing customer benefits and services in a differentiated type of content per 5G cluster and make sure that we do everything we can to stabilize the market situation as well.
“In order for our users to experience 5G service and its benefits quicker, we are currently pursuing an efficient coverage expansion strategy by building four main clusters, namely, service, major commercial areas, summer and B2B,” the executive added.
South Korean carriers SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT initially launched 5G services in the country in April. A total of 62,641 5G base stations were deployed as of June 21, which was only 7% of the number of 4G stations across South Korea, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Science and ICT. Most of the 5G base stations were concentrated in the Seoul metropolitan area.
According to recent reports, mobile subscribers in South Korea are complaining about the quality of the nation’s 5G service. Users say that the 5G services offered by the country’s three carriers have poor quality, slow connections and lack applications that use the new technology.
“At the very first stage of the 5G launch, there were some issues regarding the optimization of the device and equipment. So that had led to a certain issue regarding the service quality. We have continued to put in our utmost efforts to improve the call quality for 5G network. And as a result, we saw that the speed is unmatched to LTE and that is greatly faster than that of LTE,” said Poong-Young Yoon.
In June 2018, South Korea completed a tender process through which it awarded spectrum in both the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The government made available a total of 280 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band and 2,400 megahertz in the 28 GHz band. The spectrum was divided into 28 blocks and 24 blocks.
Participant operators SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus had a 10-block cap per spectrum band. The telcos paid a total of 3.6183 trillion won ($3.3 billion) for the spectrum, 340 billion won higher than the starting price of 3.3 trillion won.―RCR Wireless News