In South Korea, the three main telco operators launched 5G at Q219, already a year ago. The roll-out has been the fastest on the planet, putting South Korean operators and tech companies in leading positions on the new markets emerging with 5G availability. More and more local companies are developing tech projects on 5G networks, including IoT initiatives led during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of March 2020, 5G users in the country reached 5.8 million. SK Telecom, South Korean leading mobile operator, reported having more than 2.6 million 5G subscribers alone. A monthly subscription can cost from only 20,000 KRW to up to 130,000 depending on each operator’s 5G plans (between USD 16 and 110).
Korean mobile operators are implementing various marketing strategies to urge their subscriber base to shift their data plans to 5G. SKT launched its “5GX” initiative to create “5G boost” areas in Korean cities and attract more customers through gaming and VR promotional events. Along with reduced prices for its new customers, KT also offers wireless power chargers to every new 5G subscribers until the end of June. LGUplus signed a partnership with Google and YouTube to enable their 5G subscribers to use their premium services for free for up to 6 months.
At the end of last year, 5G users accounted for 6.8% of mobile subscribers. Meanwhile, 4G users started slowly decreasing from almost 83% of all mobile subscriptions at the end of 2018 to 80% at the end of last year. Following the current development of this sector, we estimate that South Korean 5G users will reach half of the mobile market by the end of 2022.