Samsung, KT launch 5G SA in South Korea

Seoul South Korea
South Korea scored high marks for 5G even before the launch of SA, which offers features beyond NSA architecture. (Getty Images)

Samsung Electronics and KT Corporation (KT) are crowing about a big achievement in their backyard, having launched Korea’s first commercial 5G standalone (SA) network.

It comes after the two companies’ collaboration on the deployment of South Korea’s first 5G SA and non-standalone (NSA) common core in the operator’s commercial network.

Since then, Samsung and KT have been preparing for the 5G SA launch through multiple tests and trials in KT’s major offices and in urban areas.  

Samsung is providing its end-to-end 5G network solutions, which includes everything from radio access network (RAN) to core, which can support 5G SA and NSA simultaneously.

“Our 5G SA service will be an important step in unlocking the full potential of 5G and it will bring new value to our customers,” said KT SVP Youngsoo Seo in a statement. “As a digital platform company, KT will continue to make efforts to help drive Korea’s Digital New Deal and ensure our customers enjoy the best experiences and opportunities that 5G has to offer.”

South Korea’s other 5G operators are SK Telecom and LG Uplus. All three mobile operators turned on 5G service in 2019 and recently were flagged by RootMetrics for setting a strong 5G example for the rest of the world.

RELATED: South Korea 5G scores high marks for both speed, coverage - RootMetrics

Last fall, KT said it would commercially launch its SA network when 5G SA-compatible devices become available in the market. The plan called for Samsung’s common core to run in KT’s Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) telecom centers across eight major South Korean cities, building toward full commercialization of SA networks in South Korea.

RELATED: Samsung, KT prepare for 5G SA with common core deployment in South Korea

Of course, operators have been moving toward SA implementations for some time now because that’s where 5G really shines, paving the way more advancements in network slicing and ultra reliable low-latency communications (URLLC).

As Samsung notes in this white paper, the SA architecture can provide full 5G services from day one, while the NSA architecture leveraging the existing LTE infrastructure provides limited 5G services.