When Is 5G Coming to South Korea? (Updated for 2019)

5G launched in South Korea, but it's not available everywhere just yet

South Korean flag

South Korean 5G networks have been available since late 2018, but like most 5G networks around the world, only select customers have access... for now.

The South Korean government's Ministry of Science and ICT predicts that by 2020, 30 percent of the country's mobile users will have access to a 5G network, with 90 percent coverage by 2026.

Here's a quick primer on 5G if you're not familiar: Every decade or so, a new mobile networking technology standard is developed to improve upon the older one — 4G in this case. 5G's speed is the primary advantage it has over 4G, which is what will allow 5G networks to change the way we live our everyday lives.

5G is currently working its way around the globe in countries like the United States, China, the UK, and others. You can follow along with the biggest 5G news releases to stay up to date with when it's coming to your area and how it will change things for the better.

South Korea 5G

There are three companies that agreed to bring 5G to South Korea: SK Telecom (SKT), KT, and LG Uplus. The official launch was on December 1, 2018, but it brought 5G to only a few customers.

5G phones from these companies won't be available until March, so mobile 5G routers are used in the meantime.

SKT 5G access is available for a manufacturing business in Ansan called Myunghwa Industry. The company also plans to provide 5G to enterprise customers in Daejeon, Incheon, Daegu, Ulsan, Busan, and Gwangju.

SK started its path to 5G in 2017 with an outdoor 5G trial in Seoul, and shortly after built out 5G technology in their autonomous driving city called K-City. In 2018, their 5G test network enabled two cars to communicate with each other, and in early 2019, they made their first live 5G TV broadcast.

SKT is also part of a 5G smart factory alliance with over a dozen other companies. Announced in late 2018, the alliance was formed for two reasons: to investigate how 5G can improve factory performance and to support the government's plan to build tens of thousands of smart factories by 2022.

South Korean 5G provider LG Uplus is live with its 5G network in Seoul and some other nearby locations, and is on their way to wider coverage, having erected over 7,000 5G base stations in 2018. LG Uplus plans to provide 5G infrastructure in major cities before 2020. Their first 5G customer was LS Mtron.

KT Corporation launched their 5G network at Lotte World Tower in Seoul, plus several other areas including Ulleungdo, Jeju, and Dokdo. They aim to provide 5G coverage in at least two dozen major cities and will offer commercial 5G services in March, 2019.

Before their 5G rollout, KT and Intel showcased 5G at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. They've committed to a $20 billion investment through 2023 to research how to best utilize 5G.