Globally, South Korea was one of the first countries to launch 5G in 2018 and it continues to set new benchmarks with high-speed and low-latency 5G network. The country has the fastest average internet connection in the world. It is also a global leader when it comes to 5G deployment.

Recently, South Korea’s third-largest service provider, LG U+, recorded substantial gains in 5G and took the lead over other operators. A new Umlaut 2021 audit report has found LG U+ has outperformed KT and SKT Telecom (SKT) in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea and achieved the highest Umlaut score despite owning significantly less amount of spectrum when compared with its rivals.

South Korea global 5G average download throughput leader

The report by Umlaut, a leader in mobile benchmarking, states that the 5G average download throughput in measured places of South Korea is number 1 in the world. Furthermore, it found the 5G average download throughput of all selected MNOs in South Korea to be above 500 Mbit/s. In comparison, Umlaut’s previous reports revealed that the 5G average download throughput for all selected MNOs in cities of Germany, United Kingdom (UK), Saudi Arabia, and Spain is lower than 400 Mbit/s, whereas, in cities of Australia, it is lower than 500 Mbit/s.

Umlaut is a global leader in mobile benchmarking and measures smartphone data performance based on extensive DriveTests. Umlaut’s benchmarking methodology focuses on customer-perceived network quality and covers a wide range of mobile services. It has released individual analysis reports for several countries and a global benchmarking report on 5G network performance. It is the first time Umlaut has analyzed the mobile networks in South Korea regarding 5G mobile network performance. 

LG U+ leads the pack in South Korea’ capital Seoul

Umlaut scored networks under test basis data and voice quality/performance. In Seoul, LG U+ took the leading place with a total score of 979 out of 1000.

The Umlaut report revealed that LG U+ is equipped with less frequency spectrum at 50MHz LTE, as compared to 55MHz for KT and 75MHz for SKT. In terms of the 5G New Radio (NR) spectrum, 80 MHz is available for LG U+ compared to 100MHz for KT and 100 MHz for SKT. 
Despite the less frequency spectrum equipped, LG U+ beats others in Seoul with the highest end-user average download throughput, which are 603.9 Mbit/s in 5G NR only scenario and 741.6 Mbit/s in 5G EN-DC (Evolved-Universal Terrestrial Radio Access-New Radio). 
In Seoul, Umlaut also ranked LG U+ number one for 5G availability. Umlaut’s methodology defines 5G availability as the share of time a user is using the 5G network, represented by the percentage of test cases during which the User Equipment (UE) was using 5G. LG U+ aced the test and recorded 98.85% 5G availability, followed by KT’s 86.6% 5G availability and SKT’s 86.4% availability.
In Seoul, LG U+ also tops the list in voice or speech quality measurement with 4.4 MOS-LQO and provides the shortest Call Setup Time with 0.6s. 
LG U+ witnesses growth in 2Q 2021 thanks to higher 5G penetration
Higher 5G penetration contributed significantly to LG U+ growth in 2Q 2021 earnings release. It stated that service revenue went up 5.6% YoY with steady revenue growth of all business sectors, mobile service +5% YoY, smart home +8.9% YoY and enterprise infrastructure +12.7% YoY. 
LG U+ also saw consumer wireless total subscribers go up 8.4% to 17,198,000, with the LTE/5G penetration rate reaching 99.3%. More users subscribed to its 5G services, which pushed the 5G H/S penetration rate to 32.9%. On the other hand, the churn rate continued to drop and reached a low of 1.28%.
In closing
LG U+ is clearly the market leader in 5G in South Korea today and 5G deployment has made significant contribution to its growth. LG U+’s gains in the last quarter results demonstrate that when done well, 5G deployment can play a crucial role in helping telcos increase their revenue even as they provide superior and truly differentiated service to the end-user.