KT has >1M “5G” subscribers; 5G roaming agreements announced with 3 European telcos

KT, South Korea’s second largest operator (SK Telecom is #1), has announced its (pre-standard) 5G subscriber base has gone past the one million mark just five months after its 5G service was launched.

More importantly, KT also said it has entered into 5G roaming agreements with operators in Italy, Switzerland, and Finland.   Specifically, KT has partnered with Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, which is the largest telco in the country with over 31.7 million subscribers. The Italian telco is currently providing 5G services in Rome, Napoli, and Turin.  In Switzerland, KT has partnered with the local telco Sunrise. Sunrise currently provides 5G connectivity to 262 cities, including Geneva and Zurich. In Finland, it has paired with Elisa which provides in 5G services in five cities, including Helsinki.  That means that KT’s 5G subscribers will be able to use the 5G networks provided by those three operators in the three European countries.

KT has standing agreements with operators in 185 countries for 3G and 4G-LTE roaming. The operator aims to extend those agreements to 5G when 5G services go live in those countries. Prior to the agreements with the three European countries, KT had already set up a similar agreement with China Mobile, despite the fact it hasn’t launched services yet.

According to KT’s price proposals at the time of its 5G launch, customers on the starting package (paying KRW 55,000, or $46 per month) will have 8 GB roaming data while overseas, with the speed capped at 1 Mbps. Those on higher tiers (paying KRW 80,000 ($67) or KRW 100,000 ($84) per month) will have unlimited roaming data, but the speed will be capped at 100 Kbps. Customers on the premium tier of the 5G service (KRW 130,000, or $109, per month) will have the speed limited lifted to 3 Mbps.

Image result for image of KT - korea telecom 5G

KT’s “5G” Buses, which are equipped with transparent displays that give the South Korean passengers a taste of the 5G service, Giga-live TV.

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KT is not the first South Korean operator to tie 5G roaming partnerships.  We reported in July that SK Telecom 5G subscribers will be able to connect to Swisscom while travelling in Switzerland, while those on LG U+ will be able to connect to China Unicom’s 5G when travelling to its neighboring country, after the latter’s 5G service goes live.

A concern for KT 5G users intending to visit Europe is that the roaming can only be done on Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the vendor’s first 5G smartphone, though KT said the service will be extended to other devices soon. Earlier this month, at IFA in Berlin, Samsung announced that it had already sold 2 million 5G smartphones and expected to double the volume to 4 million by the end of the year.

Korean telcos  have also started performing tests on 5G standalone networks using mmWave spectrum. The standalone networks are expected to be deployed sometime next year.

References:

http://telecoms.com/499860/kts-one-million-5g-subs-may-now-roam-in-europe-and-stay-on-5g/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/kt-rolls-out-5g-roaming-services-in-europe/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/07/15/sk-telecom-with-swisscom-worlds-first-5g-roaming-service/

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One thought on “KT has >1M “5G” subscribers; 5G roaming agreements announced with 3 European telcos

  1. There is no current standard for 5G roaming and it really can’t begin till IMT 2020 standard is finalized. That will likely be in early 2021.

    From the ITU Website:

    The first full-scale commercial deployments for 5G are expected sometime after IMT-2020 specifications are finalized. ​ITU plays a leading role in managing the radio spectrum and developing globally applicable standards for IMT-2020. ITU is working towards providing stable international regulations, sufficient spectrum and suitable standards for IMT-2020 and the core network to enable successful 5G deployments at the regional and international levels. In preparing for the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19​), global stakeholders are working towards building consensus on additional spectrum for IMT-2020.

    https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/backgrounders/Pages/5G-fifth-generation-of-mobile-technologies.aspx

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