South Korea ended June with a total of 16.47 million 5G subscribers, local news agency Yonhap reported, citing data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.
5G subscribers at the end of June represented 23% of the total 71.63 million mobile subscriptions in the country, according to the report. The latest data marks an increase from 15.84 million in May.
The country’s largest carrier, SK Telecom, ended June with a total of 7.7 million subscribers in the 5G segment, followed by KT with 5 million and LG Uplus with 3.7 million.
Subscriptions to 5G phones are expected to grow at a faster rate later this year after the commercial launches of Samsung Electronics’ new foldable 5G phones, as well as Apple’s new iPhones, according to the report.
Monthly net additions of 5G users stood at around 624,000 in June, compared with over 1 million in January after the launches of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 the same month and Apple’s iPhone 12 in October last year.
South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via NonStandalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks. The country’s three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities.
In July, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT announced it will award 28 GHz and sub-6 GHz spectrum in November to boost the use of 5G-related services across the country.
The frequencies will be available for mobile operators and for companies operating in different verticals. The Korean government announced it will make available a total of 600 megahertz in the 28 GHz band and 100 megahertz in the 4.7 GHz band.
The 28 GHz band will be divided into 12 blocks and the 4.7 GHz band into 10 blocks, respectively. The spectrum in the 4.7 GHz band will be offered to non-telecom companies, according to the report.
The ministry said that the allocation of these new frequencies will allow companies to operate 5G networks across various industries and offer new service such as smart factories, healthcare, robotics and smart farms.
Interested firms will have until the end of September to apply for the new 5G spectrum. The length of the licenses ranges from two to five years. The Korean government also said that the 5G spectrum is expected to be allocated by the end of November.