Irrelevant as to whether South Korea was actually first to launch 5G or not, it’s the first market Rootmetrics has tested comprehensively and LGU+ have come out on top.
US telcos have argued over the small print of launching the first 5G network, but South Korea was the first to open its networks to smartphones on April 3. All three crossed the finish line together, an intended objective of the South Korean Government, though the outcome four months later is not exactly the same.
Looking at the top-line figures, it perhaps isn’t what you would expect. LGU+, often considered the third-placed player in the market, has led the way, with SK Telecom and KT trading blows just behind.
|Maximum 5G speed||Median 5G speed||5G Latency||Reliability (staying connected)|
|KT||751 Mbps||163 Mbps||107 ms||99.9%|
|LGU+||902.1 Mbps||426.4 Mbps||72 ms||97.9%|
|SK Telecom||638.7 Mbps||286.9 Mbps||195 ms||99.9%|
Currently there is no point of comparison globally, Rootmetrics has not completed similar reports in comparable markets just yet, though the maximum speed being demonstrated by LGU+ is faster than we have seen posted by analyst speed tests in the wild in both the US and UK.
What is worth noting is this is nothing more than a bit of an ego boost for the moment. As there are few (if any) mobile applications which demand such speeds the maximum speeds are little more than a redundancy currently, though it will appeal to consumers.
Traditionally, telcos have spoken to consumers in a very simplistic manner. The desirability of telcos were judged on download speeds along, though that will have to change in the future. If telcos are going to justify asking for increased tariffs, they will have to deliver more than faster downloads that rivals, as soon enough consumers will cotton onto the fast they do not need 900 Mbps to do the vast majority of things on a smartphone.
However, for the moment the status quo is being maintained and consumers will still be drawn in the by ‘bigger, meaner, faster’ mentality being demonstrated today. This is where LGU+ might be able to steal a couple of subscriptions off rivals.
Interestingly enough, it has been reported Huawei is a supplier to LGU+ but has been snubbed by both KT and SK Telecom. This is not a suggestion the speeds have been driven primarily by Huawei’s inclusion, but it is an interesting differentiator between the rivals.
This is a good comparison to give 5G a bit of context, however a comparison between markets such as Switzerland, US and the UK will offer much more insight into the deployment strategies.