Big government-sponsored ceremony planned to celebrate 'world's first' 5G mobile service

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-04-04 14:10 Updated : 2019-04-04 16:21
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[Aju News DB]

SEOUL -- South Korea will hold a big government-sponsored ceremony next week to celebrate what it called the launch of its 5G mobile service for the first time in the world ahead of schedule, despite a potential dispute over who is "industry-first."

The ceremony will be held on Monday at a park in southern Seoul. "We have proved again that South Korea is the strongest country in information and communications," Science and ICT Minister Yoo Young-min said in a statement after a small number of people selected by three mobile carriers opened 5G mobile phone accounts Wednesday night.

The informal service came ahead of U.S. mobile carrier Verizon, which flipped the switch on the first parts of its 5G mobile network. South Korean mobile carriers will distribute 5G smartphones Friday for the official launch of their 5G mobile service in big cities, Seoul and its neighboring province. By the end of December, 5G will be available in 85 cities across South Korea.

"As we have been ahead of other countries in the 5G era, we will mobilize national capabilities to be reborn as the world's strongest 5G powerhouse," Yoo said. "5G will create new innovations and added values through the convergence of various industries and by realizing services like autonomous navigation, unmanned robots, holograms and other services that have existed only in imagination."

If 5G smartphones are used widely, competition will become active and lower prices, Yoo said. Compared to LTE's data plans which start at 30,000 won ($26.4), 5G's starts at 55,000 won. Unlimited data plans were priced at more than 80,000 won. Already, mobile carriers have been locked in active promotions.

"It was more important to lead the 5G standard and preempt the market in the commercialization process," Yoo said in a separate Facebook status. "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.