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'Half-baked' 5G network launch fails to impress Korean consumers Updated: 2019-04-15 16:05:41 KST

Is the wow factor already wearing off for 5G mobile users?
In the week since the country launched the wireless network for mobile phone subscribers, more than 100-thousand have switched to 5G handsets and monthly plans.

"However, it seems they are far from impressed.
There's growing criticism that mobile carriers' are failing to deliver their promise of a super-fast and seamless user experience."

The biggest complaint has been the severely limited access to 5G.
There are only around 85-thousand 5G base stations installed throughout the country,.. 86 percent of which are concentrated in Seoul and five other major cities.
Users say connections have been shaky at best, even in central Seoul, forcing them to fall back on the LTE network.

The lack of connectivity is not the only issue. Seemingly moderately priced 'totally unlimited' data plans offered by carriers KT and LG U Plus have also come under fire.
What had been advertised as unlimited was actually subject to restrictions after hitting certain thresholds. This clause in the fine print has now been removed following much criticism.
Still, that hasn't quelled suspicions that the apparently generous conditions may be designed to make LTE users upgrade to 5G, despite what seems to have been a premature launch of the network.
With their half-baked pricing tactics, and grandiose marketing, experts say telecom companies are missing the point.

"If the experience is good enough, consumers would be willing to pay more for 5G subscriptions. But there's not enough optimized content. Carriers need to develop strong, diverse content using features like augmented reality and virtual reality that provide sensational user experience. Without that, high speed and lower prices lack appeal."

In the meantime, it seems consumers have no choice but to wait for 5G to catch up.

"We are at the first stage of 5G coverage, with base stations first installed in densely populated areas. When introducing 4G, carriers provided both 3G and 4G networks for a smooth transition. The same goes for 5G. However, there was high anticipation for full 5G coverage so consumers were bound to be disappointed."

Given the higher data capacity and installation costs compared to 3G or 4G networks, industry experts say it will take two to three years for the whole country to be fully covered by a 5G network, that could provide a truly seamless user experience.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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