SK Telecom is 5G market leader after one year of 5G service in Korea

SK  Telecom today announced its 5G milestones achieved over the past year since launching the world’s first 5G service on April 3, 2019, along with its plans going forward.

According to the (South) Korean Ministry of Science and ICT released in January 2020, SK Telecom has established itself as the leader in the 5G market with around 2.22 million subscribers and 44.7% market share. With its strong performance in 5G, SK Telecom continues to maintain the unrivaled market leadership it secured since launching the 2G service in (South) Korea.

Photo courtesy of SK Telecom


SK Telecom has increased customers’ 5G experience and acceptance by creating around 70 5G Clusters* in key commercial districts and densely populated areas throughout the nation. To date, around 1 million customers visited 5G Clusters to experience differentiated 5G services including ‘Jump AR Zoo’ and ‘5G LoL Park.’

*5G Clusters are built with more base stations than other 5G coverage areas to offer optimal 5G environment for services like AR and VR.



  • Since launching the world’s first 5G service on April 3, 2019, the company continues to maintain its leadership in the Korean mobile market backed by 44.7% 5G market share
  • Over the past year, the company expanded its business to new areas by leveraging its strength in 5G
  • SK Telecom also pronounced its plans to offer the best 5G services through hyper-collaboration
  • Its plans include delivering new customer experience through mobile cloud gaming services, mixed reality contents and quantum-safe mobile devices; expanding enterprise business such as 5G MEC-based cloud business and 5G smart factory; and strengthening its 5G network by building more 5G Clusters and expanding 5G network coverage

According to SK Telecom’s analysis on 5G subscribers, people in their 30s and 40s are taking up 53% of the company’s total 5G subscriber base, which is significantly higher than the proportion of people in their 30s and 40s in total LTE subscriber base, which currently stands at 32%.

The total amount of data consumption of SK Telecom’s 5G subscribers reached 62,000 TB on average per month over the past three months (Dec. 2019 ~ Feb. 2020). During the same period, the average monthly data usage of subscribers who switched devices from LTE to 5G has increased about twofold from 14.5 GB (LTE) to 28.5 GB (5G) per person.

SK Telecom’s 5G subscribers are found to be using media services, which generally require greater speeds and bandwidths, much more actively than LTE subscribers. As of February 2020, 5G subscribers are using 7 times more VR services, 3.6 times more video steaming services and 2.7 times more game apps than LTE subscribers.

Moreover, armed with its strong capabilities in 5G, SK Telecom has successfully expanded into new business areas. The company is cooperating with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services in the area of cloud, and has ventured into the U.S. next-generation broadcasting (ATSC 3.0) market with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

SK Telecom also shared its experience and knowhow in 5G with other mobile operators across the globe including Deutsche Telekom, Taiwan Mobile and IT&E.

Going forward, SK Telecom aims to earn the title of the world’s best 5G service provider through hyper-collaboration with strong global companies. At CES 2020, SK Telecom’s President and CEO Park Jung-ho suggested “Hyper-Collaboration” with diverse Korean ICT companies to achieve innovations in areas including artificial intelligence.

For consumers, SK Telecom will focus on providing differentiated 5G services that innovate user experience through borderless collaboration with diverse ICT companies including cloud service providers, device manufacturers and telecommunications companies.

SK Telecom will continue to work closely with Microsoft to prepare mobile cloud streaming games and will also open ‘Jump Studio,’ a mixed-reality content production facility.

SK Telecom and Microsoft are currently providing 92 different games through Project xCloud. Cloud gaming service is being highlighted as the ‘game changer’ that will shift the paradigm in the gaming industry by enabling users to play high quality, premium games anywhere, anytime by accessing the cloud server.

Jump Studio will provide solutions that enable the creation of 3D content like holograms by combining the technological strengths of augmented and virtual reality technologies. SK Telecom expects Jump Studio to accelerate the popularization of realistic media by significantly reducing time and cost for content creation.

SK Telecom plans to release mobile device applied with global leading quantum cryptography technologies and provide advanced security solutions to 5G users.

In B2B, SK Telecom announced its vision of expanding the enterprise business in full scale by marking 2020 as the first year of its B2B business. To this end, the company will work closely with companies of diverse industries to serve as a catalyst for industrial innovations in Korea.

SK Telecom plans to build 5G MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) Centers in 12 different locations across Korea to lead a cloud-driven industrial revolution. To this end, the company is preparing to launch nationwide 5G edge cloud service by joining hands with global leading cloud companies such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

5G edge cloud, once commercialized, will provide ultra-low latency connectivity for services like unmanned delivery robots and telemedicine, thereby bringing unprecedented changes to all industries including manufacturing, distribution and healthcare.

Moreover, SK Telecom plans to deploy a private 5G network at SK Hynix’s semiconductor manufacturing facility to realize 5G smart factory that can lead to a supercycle in the semiconductor industry. The company is planning to add cutting-edge ICT including AI video analytics and AR technology to its 5G network.

SK Telecom is also cooperating with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) to realize 5G smart power plant. It will first upgrade real-time drone monitoring system for dams, remote water level monitoring system, and situation sharing system by applying private 5G network and quantum cryptography technologies to KHNP’s hydro-electric/ pumped storage power plant.

Furthermore, the company will continue to work closely with Seoul Metropolitan Government to accelerate the C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transportation System) project by applying Road Learner, which consists of 5G ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) and Live HD Map Update solution. 5G ADAS and Live HD Map Update solution are key technologies for autonomous driving as 5G ADAS improves driving safety through features including lane departure warning and forward collision avoidance, and Live HD Map Update solution reflects road situations to HD maps in real time.

In 2020, SK Telecom will bring the total number of its 5G Clusters to 240 and expand 5G coverage to neighborhoods (‘dong’) of 85 cities nationwide by working closely with telecommunications equipment manufacturers.

The company will also secure indoor coverage for a total of 2,000 buildings, including not just airports, department stores and large shopping malls but also small-to medium-sized buildings, by applying its sophisticated 5G in-building solutions.

SK Telecom was able to secure new business opportunities ahead of others by achieving the world’s first 5G commercialization,” said Ryu Young-sang, Vice President and Head of MNO Business of SK Telecom. “We are confident that the 5G business models to be launched this year will drive the company’s growth over the next decade.”


About SK Telecom:

SK Telecom is Korea’s leading ICT company, driving innovations in the areas of mobile communications, media, security, commerce and mobility. Armed with cutting-edge ICT including AI and 5G, the company is ushering in a new level of convergence to deliver unprecedented value to customers. As the global 5G pioneer, SK Telecom is committed to realizing the full potential of 5G through ground-breaking services that can improve people’s lives, transform businesses, and lead to a better society.

SK Telecom boasts unrivaled leadership in the Korean mobile market with over 30 million subscribers, which account for nearly 50 percent of the market. The company now has 47 ICT subsidiaries and annual revenues approaching KRW 17.8 trillion.

For more information, please contact [email protected] or [email protected].

Media Contact

Yong-jae Lee

SK Telecom Co., Ltd.

(822) 6100 3838

[email protected]


Local carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus had initially launched limited 5G commercial services in December 2018 as part of an agreement with the ICT ministry to launch simultaneously to avoid excessive competition. SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus initially offered the 5G service in limited areas in Seoul.

One thought on “SK Telecom is 5G market leader after one year of 5G service in Korea

  1. Light Reading: 5G still a technology looking for a purpose

    18 months into the commercial deployment of 5G, the returns are paltry.

    The two big South Korean operators, SKT and KT, have if anything gone backwards. The latest filings reveal all the key financial data are flat or declining. Likewise the Chinese telcos.

    Unlike early 3G or 4G, we can’t blame this on devices. China has around 100 different handsets available with some of the price bundles costing as little as 100 yuan ($15.11).

    China has raced to around 200 million 5G “package” subscribers, which, even though it overstates the real total, points to how smoothly 5G deployment has gone compared with previous generations.

    Yet for all that, it’s still a technology looking for a purpose. No wonder Chinese operators are selling it on price.

    The non-progress of 5G is attracting some desperate commentary in China, where it’s seen as a matter of national pride, not to mention some $30 billion in sunk costs.

    So far, 5G just hasn’t created any excitement. There are no game-changing new apps or devices. They will come eventually, just as the iPhone arrived to drive traffic onto 3G networks.

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