News Article

South Korea and US battle for World’s first 5G network title

Seoul is launching rapidly as Verizon criticizes Korean carriers of PR stunt

As each side claims to have started the world’s first commercial 5G wireless network, a fierce fight has broken out between the U.S. and South Korean telecom firms.

Verizon accused the three largest carriers of South Korea— SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus— of a “PR stunt” after pulling forward a celebrity-studded release scheduled for Friday in a bid to capture the title.

Early Thursday morning three carriers announced that some of the most well-known stars in the country, including an Olympic figure skater and K-Pop singers, had on Wednesday night used Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G smartphones.

Their announcement came just hours after Verizon revealed it had pulled its launch forward a week to turn on its Chicago and Minneapolis regions 5G network. Motorola’s Moto Z3 handset coupled with its 5G modem received its service.

The outcome may still be too close to call. The announcement from Verizon was made at 11 am ET, while SK said the system had been turned on at 10 am ET.

“We decided to launch 5G two days ago to tell everyone that Korea is the world’s first,” SK Telecom said in a comment. The business said it had no reason to wait until Friday, as everything was ready.

However, it had active South Korean government support, for which 5G is a national focus. The government informed Nikkei Asian Review it permitted the early start.

“We have proven once again that our country is the top in information telecommunications through the world’s first 5G commercialization which the private sector and government have worked together,” Science and ICT Minister You Young-min said in a statement. “Our country could lead the 5G era through the world’s first 5G commercialization.

“Verizon presented the problem first as having the world’s first title was excellent product advertising,” Kim said. Also interested in winning the global title was Samsung Electronics, a 5G smartphone manufacturer and a 5G network hardware supplier.

“Samsung couldn’t overlook who gets the world’s first award because the industry becomes a test bed for other industries. In the U.S. and other countries, too, the name will give an edge.” SK Telecom called on some of the country’s favorite stars to assist with the release. They included Baek-Hyun and Kai from the K-pop boyband EXO as well as figure skater Yuna Kim, who received the Vancouver Winter Olympics silver medal for the ladies singles “Through 5G VR services from SK Telecom, we are thrilled to satisfy more supporters,” Baek-Hyun and Kai said.

Yuna Kim said the quicker network would assist her in educating youthful skating pupils through virtual reality and augmented reality. “I like this service because with VR / AR I can teach young figure students,” Kim said.

But Verizon scathingly dismissed SK’s launch. “Six people were given devices, and they’re attempting to tell it’s a network launch That’s a PR stunt,” said Kevin King, Verizon’s CEO of corporate communications. “We launched a network and made available 5G phones to any customer who wished them. We had phones in Chicago and Minneapolis shops and were available for internet purchase.”

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