KT Corp officially has launched what it claims is the world's first "nationwide" 5G commercial network, according to a company press release. The South Korean operator also unveiled a new, unlimited 5G data plan for consumers, amid fierce pricing competition between it and the other major wireless carriers in South Korea.
KT Chairman Hwang Chang-Gyu touted KT’s trial 5G services at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games and its launch of a business-to-consumer 5G network last year. “KT has been the top global leader in 5G commercialization,” he said in a statement. “We will become the number one operator of the next-generation intelligent platform, delivering the first and best 5G network services throughout South Korea.”
KT Corp and rivals SK Telecom and LG Uplus announced pricing plans in early April, ahead of expected launches of their respective 5G networks on April 5. At the time, KT announced a basic 5G package with 5GB of data for $70.50; a special plan with 50GB for $88 per month, and a premium package offering 100GB for $116 per month.
KT announced a new unlimited data package, priced at 80,000 won ($70.50), which comes with unlimited roaming service in 185 countries. Lee Pil-jae, senior EVP of KT’s marketing division, said the plan was in response to “the expected increase in demand for content such as ultra-high definition footage and virtual reality,” in an interview with the Korea Herald.
SK Telecom and LG Uplus, meanwhile, announced unlimited data promotions for their subscribers through the end of year. All three carriers have also introduce various content-centric deals to win over new subscribers.
KT Corp also touted its extensive 5G network as a key differentiator among its rivals. It has built a commercial 5G network to cover the country's key transportation routes, including two major highways, six airports, and the ground section of high-speed railways, as well as throughout 85 major cities, 70 large shopping malls and 464 college campuses across the country. It has also rolled out a 5G coverage map for consumers. Most of that coverage is non-standalone 5G with dual 4G connectivity, however.
It’s operating mobile edge computing (MEC) telecom centers in eight major cities to support faster data processing and lower latency. The company said it achieved 1 Gbps speed with the Galaxy S10 5G smartphone on KT's commercial 5G network in downtown Seoul in March.