The total number of 5G subscribers in South Korea reached nearly 24 million in May
South Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong-ho urged the country’s mobile carriers to introduce mid-tier 5G data plans during a meeting with the operator’s CEOs.
During the minister’s first meeting with the CEOs of SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus since taking the role in May, he announced a number of proposed policy areas with the aim of improving infrastructure and offer affordable plans for subscribers.
The request came amid recent calls that the currently available two tier 5G data plans- for usages between 10 gigabytes and 12 gigabytes, and 110 gigabytes and 150 gigabytes per month — failed to properly support the current monthly 5G average usages ranging between 23 gigabytes and 27 gigabytes.
“Since the current 5G plan is limited to small and large data plans, it is necessary to launch an intermediate plan that meets the user’s demand in consideration of data usages,” Lee said.
According to a report by Korean news agency Yonhap, consumer groups have called for a new mid-tier data plan category that provided data usages between 20 gigabytes and 50 gigabytes priced under KRW60,000 ($46). The two price schemes currently available range around KRW55,000 won, and between KRW69,000-75,000.
The official asked the three telecom companies to complete the review and launch the mid-tier 5G rate plan as soon as possible.
Following the meeting with the minister, SK Telecom filed a service product application for a new mid-range 5G subscription plan to the ministry, according to local press reports.
During the meeting, Lee also said that operators needed to make additional investment to expand the availability of 5G technology in rural areas and also called operators to improve the use of frequencies in the 28GHz band and create an Open-RAN ecosystem in the country.
South Korea was the first country to launch commercial 5G networks in April 2019 and currently has 5G coverage across its 85 cities.
The total number of 5G subscribers in South Korea reached nearly 24 million in May, according to the latest available data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.
SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscriptions, ended May with 11.4 million 5G subscribers, followed by KT with 7.3 million and LG Uplus with 5.2 million, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the number of 4G subscribers in South Korea reached 47 million as of the end of May.
South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via Non-Standalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks.
Korean mobile operators have deployed a total of 202,903 5G base stations as of the end of February, according to previous reports. This figure is equivalent to 23% of total 4G LTE base stations installed in South Korea. According to a recent report by the GSMA, 5G connections accounted for 33% of total mobile connections in South Korea last year, while this technology will represent 73% of total connections in 2025.