07 April, 2019
South Korea will soon become the first country in the world to launch mobile Internet fifth generation 5G.
"Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands", said Hans Vestberg, Verizon's chairman and chief executive officer. "From now on, there is a full-blown fight", he said, adding South Korea should create a variety of services, content and devices to lead the market.
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.
5G will allow users to download movies in less than a second.
The company said it was working with its memory-chip making affiliate SK Hynix to build a highly digitised and connected factory powered by 5G technology.
None of South Korea's three network operators would say how much they have invested in 5G, but Seoul's economy minister Hong Nam Ki estimate it would be at least US$2.6 billion this year alone.
Verizon's unexpected move prompted the Ministry of Science and ICT and the three Korean mobile operators to decide to receive the first subscriptions to their 5G smartphone services at 11 p.m., April 3. Rival KT Corp is set to offer cheaper plans than its LTE service, with unlimited data and 4-year instalments to buy 5G devices.
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To date, SK Telecom has 27 million subscribers.
"I don't think we have a security issue in South Korea", Park Jin-hyo, head of SK Telecom's information and communication tech research centre, told reporters.
Mobile carriers are competitively developing and introducing photorealistic live streaming services and virtual reality experiences to prove that 5G network is a change that is worth the cost of purchasing a new phone and plan.
In this Wednesday, April 3, 2019, photo, South Korean figure skating superstar Yuna Kim attends a media showcase for its 5G service in Seoul, South Korea.
"Being the first means a lot because it means we're the first to lay the entire 5G infrastructure, having overcome lots of technological difficulties through collaboration between telecom, phone and gear companies", said Yang Maeng-seog, a vice president at SK Telecom Co., South Korea's biggest carrier.