South Korea’s 5G subscribers exceeded 9 million in September, Korean news service Yonhap reported, citing data from the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT.
The number of 5G subscribers stood at 9.25 million as of the end of September, up 590,643 from the previous month, according to the report.
The number of 5G users in the country as of the end of September accounted for 13.2% of total mobile subscribers.
The 4G segment accounted for 77% of the overall mobile base in Korea, with 54.3 million users, down nearly 200,000 from the previous month.
Meanwhile, 3G subscribers amounted to 6.1 million as of the end of September, accounting for 8.6% of the total.
Analysts expect new 5G devices, such as the new iPhone 12 ,will boost 5G subscriptions in the country in the coming months.
“We expect 5G users to reach 11.09 million by the end of this year,” Yonhap quoted Park Jung-won, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities, as saying. “Just the preorders for the new iPhone 12 models reached over 500,000.”
The country’s three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities. The government has previously said that carriers have already deployed over 115,000 5G base stations.
In July, Korean mobile operators SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus agreed to invest a total of KRW 25.7 trillion ($22 billion) through 2022 to boost 5G infrastructure across the country.
This investment will primarily focus on enhancing 5G quality in Seoul and six other metropolitan cities. The investment plan also stipulates the deployment of 5G in 2,000 multi-purpose facilities, on Seoul Metro lines 2 and 9 and along major highways. In 2021, the carriers committed to expand 5G connectivity to an additional 85 districts, including 4,000 multi-purpose facilities, subways and all train stations, as well as 20 additional highways.
Korea’s main telecom operators expect to commercialize an ultrafast mmWave 5G network this year, according to previous reports.
The mmWave 5G service will be initially available for the business-to-business segment. Operators have not yet finalized investment plans for the business-to-consumer sector, as the cost of building additional infrastructure still represents a major issue, according to the reports.
Due to the high level of capital expenditures needed, the launch of the mmWave 5G network for personal smart devices is likely to start next year or in 2022.
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