YOU ARE AT:5GLG Uplus secures additional spectrum to boost 5G in Korea

LG Uplus secures additional spectrum to boost 5G in Korea

LG Uplus secured additional spectrum in the 3.4-3.42 GHz band

Korean carrier LG Uplus secured an additional 20 megahertz of spectrum to use for 5G, according to Korean press reports.

Last week, the Ministry of Science and ICT said it would allocate the 3.4-3.42 GHz frequency band to LG Uplus, in addition to the 3.42 to 3.5 GHz spectrum that the telecom company bought for KRW809.5 billion won ($610.6 million) in 2018. LG Uplus will pay KRW152.1 billion for the additional spectrum.

LG Uplus had asked the Korean government last July for an additional 20 megahertz of spectrum to boost its 5G offerings. In a government spectrum auction in June 2018, rival operators SK Telecom and KT had secured 100 megahertz of spectrum, while LG Uplus had only acquired 80 megahertz.

In December of 2021, South Korea’s Science and ICT ministry had said it would open bidding for additional 5G networks in the 3.4-3.42 GHz spectrum, as requested by LG Uplus, which is the country’s smallest mobile operator.

However, SK Telecom and KT complained about the ministry’s decision. They said that LG Uplus was at a relative advantage in utilizing that spectrum because it is closest to the carrier’s current frequencies, so it will cost considerably less for LG Uplus to utilize it.

“Allocating additional spectrum band for LG Uplus is against the government’s principle and standard for spectrum allocation,” SK Telecom said in a previous statement.

SK Telecom and KT did not bid in this latest spectrum auction because the 3.4-3.42 GHz band was adjacent to the 3.42-3.5 GHz band that LG Uplus already had. In order to use that spectrum range, SK Telecom and KT would have to put more effort and expense into aggregating separate frequency blocks. 

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.

South Korea was the first country to launch commercial 5G networks in April 2019 and currently has 5G coverage across its 85 cities.

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.

South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via NonStandalone 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.

In June 2018, the ICT ministry completed an auction for 5G frequencies in which local carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus secured spectrum to launch 5G services in the Asian nation.

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.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Juan Pedro Tomás
Juan Pedro Tomás
Juan Pedro covers Global Carriers and Global Enterprise IoT. Prior to RCR, Juan Pedro worked for Business News Americas, covering telecoms and IT news in the Latin American markets. He also worked for Telecompaper as their Regional Editor for Latin America and Asia/Pacific. Juan Pedro has also contributed to Latin Trade magazine as the publication's correspondent in Argentina and with political risk consultancy firm Exclusive Analysis, writing reports and providing political and economic information from certain Latin American markets. He has a degree in International Relations and a master in Journalism and is married with two kids.

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