Ericsson snags 5G RAN deal with South Korea’s LG U+

Ericsson now has commercial 5G RAN contracts with South Korea’s three major mobile operators, including SK Telecom and KT. (Getty Images)

Ericsson has scored another 5G deal, this time supplying 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment for South Korean mobile operator LG U+’s Non-standalone (NSA) network.

LG U+ previously selected Ericsson as a preferred 5G core network vendor, and the new deal means Ericsson now has commercial 5G RAN contracts with South Korea’s three major mobile operators, including SK Telecom and KT.

RELATED: Ericsson announces 5G deals with KT and SK Telecom

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Under the deal, Ericsson is deploying 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software for LG U+’s next-generation network, which first launched in April using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. 

The operator’s RAN deployment started this month, and Ericsson said its solutions are going live commercially as they’re deployed in the LG U+ network.   

Like other operators in the country, LG U+ plans to deliver enhanced mobile broadband, and explore 5G opportunities in manufacturing, such as automation and AI, transportation, and public safety.

South Korea has been a fast-mover on 5G and last year wrapped up an auction for 280 MHz bandwidth of 3.5 GHz and 2400 MHz bandwidth of 28 GHz spectrum, with the mobile carriers spending a total of $3.26 billion.

South Korea’s three mobile operators simultaneously turned on live 5G networks earlier this year, quickly hitting 1 million 5G subscribers by mid-June and ramping past the 3 million mark in September.  

RELATED: South Korea carriers announce 5G pricing, data plans

LG U+’s 5G network has had a slight performance edge over its rivals, according to August results from early 5G network testing by RootMetrics.  While all of the South Korean operators produced fast speeds, LG U+ delivered the fastest peak 5G download speed, clocking in at 902.7 Mbps and the highest 5G median download speed at 426.4 Mbps. 

“LG U+’s blazing-fast 5G speeds combined with its strong reliability and low latency gives the operator an edge over the competition in the early phases of 5G deployments,” wrote RootMetrics.

RELATED: LG Uplus has competitive 5G edge in South Korea – RootMetrics

Earlier this week RootMetrics released an analysis that looked at early 5G results from U.S. carrier’s deployments in three cities, and found that generally South Korean operators lead in terms of much wider spread 5G availability, as well as significantly faster, more consistent median 5G speeds.

“U.S. 5G deployments are in their infancy compared to those in South Korea,” wrote authors of the RootMetrics report.

Though Verizon still beat out South Korean operators for peak 5G download speeds, surpassing the gigabit threshold, while Sprint delivered the best coverage compared to its domestic peers.

In Korea, 5G availability rates for each mobile carrier ranged from 42.2% to 45.6%, compared to under 7.2% for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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