5G User Experience Report South Korea June 2020

South Korea

5G User Experience Report
June 2020

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Ian Fogg VP Analysis

Key findings

The fastest real-world 5G Download Speeds in South Korea are seen by LG U+ users

LG U+ wins Opensignal's first award for 5G Download Speed, with our users seeing average speeds of 237.2 Mbps, which is 16.8 Mbps faster than users on second-placed SK Telecom (220.4 Mbps), and an impressive 22.4 Mbps faster than the 214.8 Mbps seen by KT's users.

The 5G Availability award is jointly won by LG U+ and SK Telecom

LG U+ and SK Telecom's scores are statistically tied — our 5G users on their networks spent just over 15% of their time connected to a 5G service. For most of the remainder of the time, 5G users relied on 4G networks alone for their mobile connectivity, with a very small amount of time with no signal.

For overall speed, SK Telecom wins Opensignal's Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award

Winner SK Telecom's users experienceda combined speed of 110Mbps, ahead of LG U+ on 95.8 Mbps and KT on 82.2 Mbps. This award represents the complete average download speed experience of 5G users. It takes into account the average 4G Download Speed that a 5G user will see, as well as their actual 5G Download Speed using a 5G connection, as well as the amount of time they are connected to each type of network. Together these measurements reveal 5G users' overall download speed experience.

KT ranks third, but its 5G users still see extremely high speeds

While KT ranked third for 5G Download Speed, 5G Availability and Download Speed Experience – 5G Users, the experience its users enjoy would be the envy of users on almost any other network, in any other country globally. In a recent global 5G study, KT's users' 5G speeds ranked fourth globally, only one lower rank than KT's position in South Korea alone.

Introduction

South Korea is the leading 5G market globally with very high 5G adoption compared with other countries. At the end of May 2020, 5G customers represented approximately 10% of total mobile subscriptions according to South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT. No other country has a comparable proportion of overall smartphone customers using 5G. The three leading mobile operators — KT, LG U+ and SK Telecom — had 7 million 5G customers, up from 6.3m at the end of April.

The country was extremely early to launch 5G services. Like operators in the U.S., South Korea's operators first launched 5G services for smartphone users in April 2019. Now, just over a year since 5G arrived, Opensignal is analyzing the real-world experience of 5G smartphone users in Korea to see how the experience stacks up.

For the first time, Opensignal presents 5G awards in South Korea. We have analyzed our 5G users' experience across three 5G measures: the average speed of the 5G connection when users have an active 5G link, or 5G Download Speed; the time users spend connected to 5G represented by 5G Availability; and the overall speed our 5G users experience across different generations of mobile technology, we call this Download Speed Experience – 5G Users. This last measure combines the average speeds that 5G users experience on 3G or 4G when they are not connected to 5G, with their average 5G speeds, based on the amount of time they spend connected to each generation of mobile network technology. Our 5G users have both a 5G smartphone and a 5G plan.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, South Korea
June 2020, South Korea Report
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
June 2020, South Korea
5G Download Speed
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
June 2020, South Korea
5G Availability
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Download Speed
in Mbps
SK telecom
220.4
LG U+
237.2
KT
214.8
0 60 120 180 240
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Download Speed

Our Korean users experienced average 5G Download Speed ranging from 237.2 Mbps on LG U+ to 214.8 Mbps on KT. These results indicate the real-world 5G speeds where our users had an active 5G connection. The results include tests across all of the locations where smartphone users spend their time, indoors or outdoors, at work or at home, in parks or in shops, or in transit between locations.

Opensignal's 5G results represent the end-to-end experience of users. We tested 5G Download Speed to the typical content delivery networks used to host popular mobile apps and websites.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
SK telecom
220.4
LG U+
237.2
KT
214.8
0 60 120 180 240
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

But users on all three South Korean operators see 5G speeds many times faster than users' 4G speeds. While users on LG U+ experienced 5G speeds 5.2 times as fast as average 4G speeds, KT users saw the greatest increase in speeds with 5G Download Speed 4.8 times the 4G speeds seen on the same network. SK Telecom users saw the smallest jump, although speeds were still an impressive 3.5 times faster.

These high average 5G speeds are especially striking because South Korea's operators are yet to launch 5G services using the type of high capacity wireless spectrum, mmWave, which powers the fastest average 5G speeds we have seen anywhere globally. Instead, South Korea is using the same type of mid-band spectrum also used by operators in Australia and across Europe. However, in those countries with a similar type of 5G spectrum used, Opensignal has seen to date significantly slower 5G speeds than in South Korea — typically in the 110 - 170 Mbps range.

5G Availability

Having very fast average 5G download speeds is only useful when users have a 5G connection. Opensignal's 5G Availability compares the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are connected to 5G.

SK Telecom and LG U+ jointly win Opensignal's 5G Availability award with scores statistically tied at 15.4% and 15.1% of the time, respectively. KT users had a slightly lower 5G Availability of 12.5%, which means our 5G users connecting using KT spent relatively more time connected only to 4G.

5G Availability
in %
SK telecom
15.4
LG U+
15.1
KT
12.5
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience – 5G Users

When a user upgrades to a 5G-capable smartphone using an operator's 5G price plan, they will want to be able to experience the fastest 5G connection speed. Opensignal's 5G Download Speed award compares the part of their mobile experience where they are connected to 5G.

However, it is just as important to understand the overall speed experience that a 5G enjoys because they spend some of their time connected to 4G and, for now, a minority of time connected to a 5G service. This is what our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users measures. It takes into account the average 4G Download Speed that 5G users see, as well as their average 5G Download Speed and time connected to each type of network to reveal the overall download speed experience.

SK Telecom wins the award for Download Speed Experience – 5G Users with a score of 110 Mbps, which is 14.2 Mbps ahead of LG U+ users, and 27.9 Mbps faster than KT's users. While SK Telekom's users enjoy only the second fastest 5G connection speed, the combination of their faster 4G experience, as well as a joint best time spent connected to 5G, and a competitive 5G Download Speed only slightly slower than LG U+, has generated a higher overall score than that of its rivals.

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
SK telecom
110.0
LG U+
95.8
KT
82.2
0 28.75 57.5 86.25 115
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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