SK Telecom and Samsung Bring South Korea Closer to 5G Standalone Commercialization

The two companies successfully completed interoperability test between 5G Standalone Core and Commercial Network Solutions (based on 3GPP Release 15 which is not 3GPP’s final submission to ITU-R for IMT 2020 RIT/SRITs.

SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics today announced the successful completion of South Korea’s first interoperability assessment between 5G Standalone (SA) Core and other commercial network systems over a pre-standard 5G network. This successful result brings the two companies one step closer to 5G SA commercialization.

The 5G SA Core, jointly developed by SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics, not only supports technologies including network slicing and function modularization based on 3GPP standards, but also offers additional functions that operators have been using since LTE, include billing, subscriber management and operational convenience system. The interoperability assessment is the final stage for verifying the validity of 5G SA data transmission, signifying that the SA system is ready to be launched for commercial service.

Both companies implemented several cutting-edge technologies in the 5G SA Core that has been used for the interoperability. The technologies include Data Parallel Processing technology that performs QoS and transmission control simultaneously; Data Acceleration technology that classifies and distributes similar traffic types; and Path Optimization technology that automatically delivers data traffic to Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) platform.

“Along with the initial phase of NSA rollout, SK Telecom has been continuously focusing on researching and developing the SA technology in order to provide customers a differentiated service quality with innovative products, which will be launched in the first half of next year,” said Park Jin-hyo, Chief Technology Officer and Head of ICT R&D Center at SK Telecom. “By strengthening bilateral collaboration with Samsung, SK Telecom will drive and lead highly innovative 5G technologies and solutions.”

“The fundamental structure of 5G SA is built on a completely new configuration, successfully delivering the most optimized 5G service to customers and enterprises across numerous industries,” said Jaeho Jeon, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Maintaining Korea’s leadership in network innovations through continuous investments in next-generation technologies is important to Samsung and SK Telecom, and the companies will continue to collaborate on developing and commercializing 5G SA.”

Once 5G SA is commercialized, data processing efficient will be improved by threefold, allowing efficient control for supporting massive data traffic. Moreover, 5G SA system is highly optimized for emerging next generation services such as Autonomous driving, Smart Factory, Smart Farm, and AR/VR.

For the past five years, the two companies have been collaborating on LTE and 5G development, which ultimately led to this successful 5G SA Core interoperability test. Some of other accomplishments include the commercialization of Virtualized LTE Core and Packet Optimization system; and they have completed the development of 3GPP Rel. 15 based SA Core in July last year, and successfully launched 5G NSA commercial service in April this year.


About SK Telecom:

SK Telecom is the largest mobile operator in Korea with nearly 50 percent of the market share. As the pioneer of all generations of mobile networks, the company has commercialized the fifth generation (5G) network on December 1, 2018 and announced the first 5G smartphone subscribers on April 3, 2019. With its world’s best 5G, SK Telecom is set to realize the Age of Hyper-Innovation by transforming the way customers work, live and play.

Building on its strength in mobile services, the company is also creating unprecedented value in diverse ICT-related markets including media, security and commerce.


For more information, please contact: or


Media Contact

Yong-jae Lee

SK Telecom Co. Ltd.

(822) 6100 3838

(8210) 3129 6880

Irene Kim

SK Telecom Co. Ltd.

(822) 6100 3867

(8210) 8936 0062

Ha-young Lee

BCW Korea

(822) 3782 6421


3 thoughts on “SK Telecom and Samsung Bring South Korea Closer to 5G Standalone Commercialization

  1. South Korea:

    The Republic of (South) Korea announced for the goal of the world’s first commercialization in February 2018 and finished auction for 5G Spectrum in Jun. 2018 and certified 5G base station equipment in September 2018 and launched 5G service using mobile routers first in December 2018.
    The new milestone of 1 million 5G subscribers was reached on 10th June 2019, 69 days after Korea became the first country in the world to officially launch 5G commercial services on April 3, 2019.

    Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced the 3rd plan (from 2019 to 2023) on January 25, 2019. The master plan for radio waves promotion is mid- and long-term spectrum policy for every 5 years. The potential additional candidate bands for 5G are divided into two parts, below 6 GHz bands and above 24 GHz bands.

    (Band below 6 GHz)
    – 2 300 2 390 MHz (former WiBro service band)
    – Adjacent band(s) with the 3.5 GHz band (e.g. 3.4-3.42 GHz and 3.7-4.2 GHz, portions thereof)
    – Portion(s) of 1 452 1 492 MHz band
    – If necessary, prepare supplementary supply plan such as 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz band etc.
    (Band above 24 GHz) To secure additional 2 GHz bandwidth, Korea is considering the availability of equipment/terminals and WRC-19 results
    Table Planned schedule
    ‘19 ‘20 ‘21 ‘22 ‘23
    5G Allocation 2.3 GHz band Adjacent band(s) with 3.5 GHz band 1.4 GHz band Bands above 24 GHz
    (2G-4G) Existing bands

    5G+ Strategy
    MSIT and nine other related ministries jointly announced the “5G+ strategy” at the “Korean 5G Tech-Concert” on April 8.
    The vision of 5G+ strategy is realization of innovative growth through 5G+ and the goal is achieving 180 trillion won in the production of 5G+ strategic industry by 2026 (15% of the global market share)
    The Korean government is planning to foster 15 5G-based “strategic industries” to create 600 000 jobs and export $73 billion worth of goods and services by 2026.

    The 15 industries consist of five “Key services” and 10 “Key industries”. The five key services include immersive content, smart factory, autonomous vehicles, smart city and digital health care, while the 10 key industries include network device, next-generation smart phone, AR·VR Device, wearable device, intelligent CCTV, future drone, connected robot, 5G V2X, information security and edge computing.
    5G frequency allocation in Japan:
    Toward the launch of 5G in 2020, MIC (Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications) allocated frequency for 4 operators.
    China (People’s Republic of):
    On 6th June, MIIT of China issued 5G commercial licenses to four major operators, which are China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Broadcasting Network.

  2. FT: South Koreans complain at poor quality of 5G network.
    Country has 77% of world’s 5G users but service is patchy.

    The world’s first and largest 5G mobile network has come under fire from customers for poor quality, slow connections and lack of applications that use the new technology. South Korea launched 5G in April 2019 and more than 1.6m people had switched to the new service by the end of June, accounting for 77 per cent of the global population of 5G users, according to GSMA, the industry body.

    There are 14 times as many South Koreans using 5G as there are Americans, because of aggressive marketing by telecoms operators and generous subsidies. There are 63,000 5G base stations in South Korea – just 7 per cent of the number of 4G stations.

    But consumers are now complaining that the promise of internet speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G has so far not been met. Users said they often have weak signal and poor connections instead.

    “It seems faster to download a movie than 4G phones but not as fast as I expected,” said one office worker at a telecoms company.

    “And I have experienced some connection problems as well in some areas. I don’t see a big merit of the expensive phone as there are not many specialised contents.” 

    Analysts explained that so far there are not enough base stations for nationwide coverage.

    “The number of base stations falls short of demand,” said Kim Young-woo at SK Securities. “Operators need to expand their facility investment quickly to solve the problem.”

    South Korean operators such as KT Corp, SK Telecom and LG Uplus have spent at least $2.6bn this year alone on 5G technology, according to government estimates, as the country pins high hopes on the new technology to drive growth in the information technology sector. 

    The 5G network was expected to provide a new level of high-speed connectivity that will enable more cutting-edge IT services such as artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and virtual and augmented reality.

    Korean telecom operators are scurrying to improve service quality, by building more base stations and developing new content. They have built about 63,000 5G base stations across the country, which is only 7 per cent of the number of 4G stations, according to government data. 

    LG Uplus, which uses Huawei equipment, has been able to increase its domestic market share since the 5G launch, but it may soon face trouble as the US is pressing its allies to avoid 5G solutions from the Chinese company, analysts said. 

    Competition among smartphone makers to grab a bigger share of the 5G market is expected to intensify in the second half of the year as Samsung plans to unveil a new flagship 5G smartphone in August and a foldable phone later.

    Its Chinese rivals are expected to join the race with more affordable 5G phones. Apple is also expected to introduce its first 5G iPhone next year, which will accelerate the US switch.

  3. SK Telecom (SKT) declared itself the 5G king of South Korea after signing up more than half a million subscribers to the service in just under three months.

    Operators in the country launched their next-generation offers simultaneously on 3 April, with total user numbers reckoned to have broken 1 million after two months.

    In its Q2 earnings statement, SKT said it ended the quarter with 503,000 users, giving it the “largest 5G market share” in the country. This contributed to a 1 per cent rise in total mobile subscribers year-on-year to 31 million at end-June (including MVNO and other connections).

    However, SKT’s 5G success appeared to be a double-edged sword, bringing with it higher marketing expenses and costs associated with licensing fees which dragged on operating income at its mobile communications business.

    The operator continued to build its 5G offer following the close of the quarter, penning a roaming deal with Swisscom and launching three AR and VR services using the technology in July. During the remainder of the year, it plans to build “multiple 5G clusters” in major areas of the country, offering “premium network quality and innovative services”, moves it expects will take its total users beyond 2 million by end-December.

    SKT said 5G had a positive sequential impact on mobile revenue during Q2, though the KRW2.44 trillion ($2 billion) generated was down 2.5 per cent year-on-year.

    At group level, net profit fell 71.7 per cent to KRW259.1 billion due to a “lower equity method income on SK Hynix”, while revenue grew 6.8 per cent to KRW4.4 trillion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Recent Posts