5G subscribers represented 9.4% of Korean telco LG Uplus’ overall mobile subscriber base at the end of the first quarter, the telco said in its earnings release.
The carrier said that 5G subscribers amounted to 1.45 million at the end of Q1 2020, up 24.9% compared to the previous quarter.
The operator reported a total of 15.51 million mobile subscribers as of the end of March, up compared to 14.4 million customers at end-March 2019.
LG Uplus, together with rival operators SK Telecom and KT, launched commercial 5G services in Korea in April 2019.
LGUplus said operating profit was KRW 219.8 billion (179.4 million) in Q1, up 11.5% from the year prior, while revenue was KRW 3.28 trillion, up 15% year-on-year. The carrier said the increase in operating profit in Q1 was chiefly due to higher indoor activities by customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The revenue boosts came from mobile payments, video on-demand, and cloud use, the company said.
In the first quarter, LG Uplus invested KRW 375 billion, mostly to expand 5G coverage, up 35.3% year-on-year.
Last week, LG Uplus finished testing services on a commercial 5G standalone (SA) network, according to local press reports.
The current 5G network through which LG Uplus currently offers 5G is a non-standalone (NSA) network which partially incorporates 4G technology.
LG Uplus tested the interlocking of the base station equipment and the signal packet processing equipment of its 5G commercial network in Seoul.
In particular, it conducted tests on commercial networks for essential verification items such as subscriber authentication based on the 5G SA standard, data transmission, and base station equipment’s moves between regions, according to the reports.
South Korea reached a 5G penetration of 9.67% at the beginning of April, representing the highest penetration rate around the globe, Korean press reported, citing data from the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT. In terms of the number of 5G subscribers, Korea ranked second in the world after China.
The Korean government also said that local carriers have already deployed a total of 115,000 5G base stations across the country.
The Korean government previously said that the country’s three major telecom carriers had agreed to invest KRW 4 trillion in their 5G networks during the first half of this year. Operators will heavily invest to install additional 5G equipment with the aim of expanding the coverage of current 5G networks across the country.
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. 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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