Samsung releases world's first 5G phone in South Korea

South Korea Will Be First To Roll Out 5G Services Beating US And China

South Korea Will Be First To Roll Out 5G Services Beating US And China

South Korea will become the first country to commercially launch fifth-generation (5G) services on Friday as it rolls out the latest wireless technology with Samsung Electronics' new 5G-enabled smartphone Galaxy S10.

It is crucial for the future development of devices ranging from self-driving vehicles that send data traffic to one another in real time to industrial robots, drones and other elements of the Internet of Things.

The US and South Korea are among several countries hoping for a share of 5G-related economic benefits estimated to be worth US$565bn globally by 2034, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications in London.

The implications of the new network have pitted Washington against Beijing - whose firms dominate 5G technology - in an increasingly bitter standoff.

Among South Korea's top three telecom operators, SK Telecom and KT Corp do not use Huawei equipment for 5G services.

Chinese entities own a total of 3,400 5G patents - more than a third of the total, according to data analysis firm IPlytics - with 1,529 of those registered by Huawei.

South Korea comes next, with its companies holding 2,051 patents.

Three top telecom providers - SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus - began their 5G services at 11 pm local time Wednesday, despite previously announcing the launch date would be April 5.

Despite South Korea's claim to have won the battle for 5G bragging rights, Japan's Nikkei business paper said the race may still be too close to call, noting that Verizon's announcement was made at 11am U.S. eastern time, while South Korea's SK said it had switched on its service an hour earlier.

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"Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands", said Hans Vestberg, Verizon's chairman and chief executive officer.

Rival manufacturer LG is due to launch its V50 ThinQ, another 5G phone, in the South later this month, while in the US, Verizon's network works with Lenovo's Moto Z3 smartphone fitted with a special accessory.

Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs, said in a statement Wednesday that independent testing shows "that we are the fastest wireless network nationwide".

South Korea claimed to be the first country to launch 5G, but that was disputed by US carriers who say they rolled out 5G in limited areas as early as previous year.

Japan is also expected to roll out a limited deployment in 2019 before full services start in time for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Korea Telecom 5G customer receives a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone at a KT launch event in Seoul.

Both KT and LG Uplus said they also went live at the same time, with a total of three specially-selected users: KT offered it to the wife of a technician setting up its network on the disputed island of Dokdo, while LG Uplus provided it to a television personality and her racing-driver husband.

United States carrier Verizon launched its mobile 5G network in the USA yesterday, a week early, as part of an attempt to scupper South Korean's claim to be the first.

"If 5G is fully implemented", he said, "it will greatly improve people's lives".

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