SKorean carriers switch on 5G networks Before schedule

Three leading South Korean providers kicked their 5G networks into gear early in order to get a jump on their US counterparts

The 5G networks of the three South Korean mobile operators went live at 11pm on Wednesday, hours before USA carrier Verizon turned on its 5G network in some areas of Minneapolis and Chicago a week ahead of schedule.

Smartphones enabled by fifth-generation telecommunications networks were launched and registered in South Korea on Friday, marking the beginning of a new telecom era.

"The government and private companies came together to achieve the world's first commercialised 5G services and this proves once again our country is undoubtedly the top powerhouse in information and communications", said You Young-min, South Korean minister for science and information technology.

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The celebrities - including two members of K-pop band EXO and Olympic ice-skating hero Kim Yu-na - were "the world's first 5G smartphone subscribers", it said. Users will get more data faster, with less delay. The initial launch is part of a 30-city goal for 5G services this year. Verizon last month stated that customers would be able to use 5G facilities on Moto Mod and Z3 by Motorola. Park Jae-won who has been a long time subscriber since 1988 was also among the first 5G subscribers on their network.

According to market experts, nations like Japan, South Korea, United States, and China are racing to commercialize 5G, with hopes that the technology will offshoot breakthroughs in fields of autonomous cars and smart cities.

The technology can offer data speeds that are 20 times faster than the current 4G long-term evolution or LTE networks and better support for artificial intelligence and virtual reality with low latency. Kim became the world's first 5G subscriber Wednesday at 11 p.m. when she registered her new Samsung phone.



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