​S. African mobile carrier to benchmark LGU+'s 5G commercial services

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2019-04-11 16:24 Updated : 2019-04-11 16:24
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SEOUL -- Top executives from South African telecom company Rain made a field inspection to benchmark the operation of South Korea's 5G mobile network as SK Telecom took fence-mending steps to tackle consumer complaints of poor service caused by hasty preparations for the "industry-first" title.

A business delegation led by Rain chairman Paul Harris visited LG Science Park, the research and development center of LGU+, one of South Korea's mobile carriers which opened a 5G mobile service this month, to see and study how the company's 5G service operates. Paul has vowed to build a 5G network in South Africa.

LGU+ said in a statement Thursday that Rain executives were especially interested in 5G-based business-to-business solutions such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) content services.

After launching the world's first commercial 5G service for businesses such as smart factories in December 2018, three South Korean mobile carriers -- LGU+, KT and SK Telecom -- have started providing 5G services for ordinary consumers on April 4, two hours before American telecom company Verizon started its first 5G smartphone service in Chicago and Minneapolis.

The global telecom industry has paid strong attention to South Korea's 5G services. LGU+ said that many foreign telecom companies have offered to visit and benchmark the know-how of operating its 5G service.

At home, however, initial excitement gave way to concerns due to growing complaints among 5G users about service quality such as a lack of coverage and poor connection. A lot of complaints have been uploaded on Clien, an IT online community, and other sites.

"I work in central Seoul right next to KT's headquarters building and my 5G phone cannot receive 5G data," Lee Jong-soo, a technical engineer who opened a 5G smartphone account, told Aju news. "I think I was too hasty to change my phone."

"I think it's too early to buy a 5G Phone," DailyMail, a Clien user, said, adding his 5G phone does not also work properly in central Seoul. Another user XBASE said: "There just aren't enough base stations yet. We'll have to wait at least two years to get the full speed of 5G."

Aware of consumer complaints, SK Telecom (SKT) CEO Park Jung-ho held an emergency executives' meeting on Thursday and stressed that the company should seriously listen to customers' voices and work hard to improve its service quality in coverage, speed and contents. SKT will open a 5G coverage map on its website on Friday so that consumers can check 5G coverage in real-time.

"We need to look back and see if we are meeting the expectations of customers who have been waiting for 5G services for a long time," Park said. "What's important is frank communication with our customers. Early coverage and service announcements in the 5G era should ensure that customers understand correctly and make rational decisions."

SKT's initial 5G service fell short of customers' expectations, Park said. "The world is paying close attention to us, as leading foreign companies highly value South Korea as a global 5G test bed and actively propose 5G-based business cooperation."