KT Corp said it has already installed 15,000 base stations while rival carrier LG Uplus deployed 18,000 5G base stations
Korean carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are rapidly deploying 5G base stations ahead of the planned commercial launch of this technology, which is scheduled for the first days of April, the Korea Times reports.
KT recently confirmed it has already deployed 15,000 5G base stations in Seoul and will install a total of 30,000 5G base stations across the country by April 5.
The carrier said that its 5G commercial offering will be available in 85 major cities nationwide by the end of 2019. “We will be able to have up to 80% nationwide coverage with 5G by the end of the year,” Seo Chang-seok, head of KT’s network strategy unit, reportedly said.
Meanwhile, LG Uplus said it has already deployed a total of 18,000 5G base stations in Seoul and surrounding areas as well as some metropolitan cities.
The carrier announced plans to install 50,000 base stations within the first half of the year. “Beginning with Seoul, surrounding areas and some metropolitan cities, we will build additional base stations in major cities and expand the coverage to 85 towns and counties to keep our competitiveness in 5G networks,” the newspaper quoted an official from LG Uplus as saying.
The report also highlighted that SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile carrier, did not disclose the number of 5G base stations already deployed in the country.
SK Telecom has already submitted to the Ministry of Science and ICT its rate plan for 5G services, which was expected to be approved by the authorities this week.
The cost of the 5G rate plan is expected to start at KRW 55,000 ($48) per month for eight gigabytes (GB) of data. The two other mobile carriers are expected to submit their rate plans in early April.
According to government officials, the deployment of nationwide 5G networks will be fully completed in 2022 or 2023, according to the report.
The three Korean carriers had launched limited 5G commercial services in December 2018 as part of an agreement with the ICT ministry to launch simultaneously to avoid excessive competition. The three mobile carriers 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 cover a ten-year period and the 28 GHz band licenses a five-year term.
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