South Korea’s telecoms regulator has releases new figures that show, less than a year after launching the new technology, 5G networks are now carrying 21% of all mobile data in the country. South Korea has three wireless network operators: KT, LG Uplus and SK Telecom who have the biggest 5G market share.
Phil Kendall, an analyst with research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, gives a fantastic insight into how 5G has grown in the country since operators launched the technology early last year.
I forgot to do my monthly #5G stats roundup for South Korea this morning, so here goes… December data from @withmsit shows 4.67 million 5G connections, up 313k during the month. Monthly net adds continuing to fall since August. pic.twitter.com/uD7Umi47kuJanuary 31, 2020
Kendall also provides an important look at just how much data South Korean 5G phone users are getting through.
Average #5G usage was 27.3GB/month in November - 4G at 9.7GB, 3G 0.16GB, 2G 4MB. 5G now accounts for 21% of traffic off 6.8% of connections. pic.twitter.com/XuUuO3xVwOJanuary 31, 2020
Interestingly, Kendall noted that some of the reason that there’s so much traffic on the country’s 5G internet is thanks to the unlimited data plans for 5G phones. His insight shows that over two thirds of 5G users in South Korea are on unlimited plans, consuming an average of 33 GB per month in the fourth quarter of 2019.
South Korea as a testbed
South Korea is a tech-loving country with savvy citizens and an innovation government and is often used as a reliable testbed. In 5G, South Korea boasts a widespread wired network for backhaul and lots of unused and flexible midband spectrum that's ideal for 5G coverage and capacity. Due to the size of South Korea, it’s equal to half of the UK / equal to the same size as the state of Tennessee in America, it’s a lesser task to roll out 5G networks across the whole country.
Although the country is enjoying an early lead in 5G, it will certainly be overshadowed by China’s 5G network, which although only a few months old already has the nation's three big mobile network operators offering 5G in over 50 cities.
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