The three major mobile operators in South Korea have banded together to say they will launch initial 5G services on the peninsula in March 2019, likely making the country one of the first to get the next-generation wireless offering.
SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ have all agreed to cooperate in launching their 5G networks together during a so-called "Korea 5G Day," expected to happen during March 2019, according to domestic reports. Korean science minister You Young-min said that the cooperation between the carriers would help to make South Korea the world's first 5G country.
A March 2019 launch appears to dovetail with the current expectations of when the first 5G smartphones will arrive in 2019. The first handsets are expected to be available after being unveiled at the next Mobile World Congress show in February 2019.
South Korean conglomerate Samsung Corp. is expected to be one of the first -- if not the first -- company to deliver 5G smartphones in 2019. (See A 5G Smartphone Timeline for 2019 and Samsung Plots New 5G Modem – Report.)
The vendor is also expecting to deliver both 28GHz and 3.5GHz network infrastructure for domestic carriers. (See SKT & Samsung Testing Mid-Band 5G and Samsung Hosts Key 5G Standards Meeting in South Korea.
US carriers -- notably AT&T and Verizon -- may launch a handful of 5G markets in the US before the March 2019 South Korean deadline. The US, however, is nearly 100 times the size of South Korea, so nationwide 5G deployments are expected to take at least three years, if not longer, in the US.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading