Korean telcos cheered on stronger-than-expected early migration to 5G

2019.04.09 12:32:04 | 2019.04.09 16:05:29

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South Korea’s top three mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are going all out to secure an additional supply of Samsung Electronics’ newest smartphones supporting 5G connection as the number of early customers migrating to their 5G services more than meet expectations.

Sources said on Monday the number of 5G subscribers are estimated to exceed 100,000 on the fourth day after the world’s first commercial 5G service was launched in Korea. Last weekend, customers had to wait a long line to sign up in front of large phone stores in downtown Seoul.

Demand for 5G migration is stronger than expected as more people become certain of incremental improvement in service quality that is compromised by the lack of base stations and network resources to support 5G communication especially in non-metro areas.

LG Uplus said its initial quota for 25,000 subscribers to its 5G service was fully consumed on the first day. KT announced its 5G subscribers surpassed 30,000 as of 5:00 pm on Saturday. Market leader SK Telecom did not disclose the number of its 5G subscribers but its figure is known to be on par.

The industry had speculated early 5G demand would be limited because Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S10 5G, the only 5G-enabled model in the market, is retailed at a high price of 1,397,000 won ($1,220) and monthly plans stand between 80,000 won and 130,000 won, higher than plans for 4G services. But customers show positive responses to the latest Samsung smartphone and are attracted to deep subsidies from telcos in fierce competition.

The three telecom carriers focus their subsidy offers mainly on 5G services, creating an unusual situation in which a 4G LTE smartphone is more expensive than the 5G phone in some cases.

By Lee Yong-ik and Minu Kim

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