Rollout of 5G mobile services for smartphone users faces delays

09, Mar. 2019

SEOUL, AJU - The launch of 5G mobile services for South Korean smartphone users this month will be delayed for technical reasons and a dispute between policymakers and mobile carriers over the monthly cost of data plans. Government officials were still confident of South Korea becoming the world's first to commercialize 5G services.

South Korea has launched a global publicity campaign to herald the world's first rollout of 5G mobile services for businesses in December last year and ordinary smartphone users in March. A pompous state-sponsored ceremony has been arranged, with mobile carriers under pressure to step up preparations.

The Ministry of Science and ICT said Thursday that preparations for 5G smartphone services were not complete, acknowledging possible delays, as companies called for more time, citing technical problems.

“The commercialization of 5G is possible only when various requirements such as network, terminal, and service are prepared,” the ministry said in a statement. “Working closely with mobile carriers, handset makers and others, we will pursue policies by checking preparations for commercialization.”

Mobile carriers and ministry officials have yet to wrap up negotiations on 5G data plans, an agreement with customers that specifies how much mobile data they can access, usually per month, for a specific fee. Some data plans include voice, text messaging and data while others are broken into separate charges, one for phone and text and another for data.