Total Telecom had the pleasure of speaking to RootMetrics CEO Kevin Hasley about the South Korean 5G market and the lessons that operators in other markets can learn from it

South Korea is often held up as a the world-leading nation when it comes to 5G and, for CEO of RootMetrics CEO Kevin Hasley, this title is well deserved. The country has not only seen rapid rollout and widespread adoption, but is fully embracing the innovation that the new technology can facilitate. RootMetrics recently finished their 5G performance test in seven cities acrossSouth Korea, with the fastest median download speed in the capital, Seoul, at 459.7 Mbps, coming from operator LG U+.

“5G is one of the pillars that is being relied upon to enable all types of advanced marketplace systems and services that South Korea takes pride in,” said Hasley.

But what is it that makes the South Korean market just so successful when it comes to 5G? Part of the answer can be found in the country’s topography and demography, with huge, well-connected urban centres and assorted transported infrastructure presenting an excellent framework for 5G deployment.

“The landmass in general is very densely populated; you have a lot of close-knit cities that are connected via commuter trains and other transport systems. So, alongside those journeys, you also have the ability to put up infrastructure that allows that deployment [of 5G] to go across the country,” said Hasley, noting that this is not true of many other countries, such as the US.

Similarly, the country’s youthful population, already well-experienced at being first-adopters of cutting edge technology, has helped the nation achieve 5G adoption rates that other countries cannot match.

“The population is a lot younger and used to adopting new technologies; look at e-sports, for example, where many of the top teams come from South Korea,” he explained.

When asked what lessons operators in other markets could learn from South Korea, he said that their focus should be emphatically set on delivering new services to customers and enterprises: build it and they will come.

“The commitment and the services that the operators are delivering tells the consumer why 5G is important,” he said. “If you deliver the services bundled with an advanced phone, as well as advanced services like augmented reality, virtual reality, 4K streaming, streaming Disney+, etc, then the consumers are going to come and they are doing to adapt to it, because it is simply not possible with phones using a lower technology. All those services are only available on 5G.”

Hasley says that there is always going to be a race for faster speeds over using 5G, but that the real battle is how quickly and smoothly operators can use 5G to facilitate other technologies.

“It’s not really a 5G race, its a technology experience race,” he said, noting that ubiquitous coverage will be hugely important in making these experiences a reality for users.

Ultimately, 5G is still in its infancy, even in the South Korean market. There is a long path to maturity, but it is a one replete with new experiences and exciting new markets for operators to dip their toes into.

“I’m excited to see where operators around the world are looking to take 5G,” said Hasley. “In 2021 and 2022 – once we get past this very difficult time with Covid – we’re going to see a lot of really cool stuff coming out and advancements that are really exciting.”


You can watch the full interview with RootMetrics CEO Kevin Hasley from the link above. 

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