5G subs to overtake 3G in Korea by 2020

South Korean operators’ plans to take an early lead in the deployment of 5G is expected to help them overcome stagnating traditional telecoms service revenues, research from GlobalData indicates.

The market’s 5G subscriber base is expected to outnumber the 3G base by 2020, two years after the planned world’s first commercial 5G deployment during next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, GlobalData said.

This will be a boon to operators at a time when mobile voice service revenues are expected to decline at an average rate of 7% per year through to 2021, GlobalData telecoms market analyst Malcolm Rogers commented.
“Operators around the globe faced with the same challenge, evolve to something more than a pipe provider or offer services that come with more utility. However, the Korean operators have been among the most proactive in growing business outside the core of communication,” he said.

“Whereas operators in some markets have been slow to react to the digital disruption caused by OTTs and internet giants like Google and Amazon, the players in South Korea have been investing in new digital business for years.”

The market’s operators – SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ – are focusing on a range of non-core segments including industrial IoT, payment platforms, media and commerce, Rogers added.

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KT recently launched an AI-based home assistant service while both SK Teleom and LG U+ are offering cellular based wireless payment platforms. All three are meanwhile investing in business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce offerings, an entirely new industry for the operators.

Against this backdrop, 5G networks are expected to allow the operators to introduce new services targeting industry, government and consumer markets, according to GlobalData.

KT is already exploring offering 5G-enabled entertainment services including 8k mobile video streaming, while SK Telecom and KT are developing driverless car solutions and security platforms based on 5G technologies.

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