Korean carrier SK Telecom has reached 1.5 million subscribers in the 5G segment, representing a share of 44% in the local 5G market, the carrier’s CFO Poong-Young Yoon said on a conference call with investors.
The executive said that the company expects to end this year with over 2 million 5G subscribers. “By the end of 2020, we expect to have a total of 7 million subscribers in the 5G segment,” he said.
“Currently, we are focusing on the major densely populated areas of the 85 cities, including Seoul and the metropolitan areas. By the end of this year, we plan to expand our 5G coverage to around 70 5G clusters, so that our consumers can really feel the high-quality 5G service and also major KTX lines, highways and other areas within the 85 cities,” he added.
South Korea claimed to be the first country in the world to launch full 5G commercial services on April 3 of this year. 5G coverage in Korea is restricted to urban areas and places where there are a large number of people.
The three Korean carriers launched limited 5G commercial services in December 2018 as part of an agreement with the ICT ministry to launch simultaneously to avoid excessive competition. SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus initially launched the 5G service in limited areas in Seoul.
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.
The 3.5 GHz band licenses covering a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.
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