Mobile Network Experience Report South Korea December 2020

South Korea

Mobile Network Experience Report
December 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

LG U+ and SK telecom share Opensignal's latest mobile awards equally

This time both operators win three mobile network experience awards outright and jointly win one other. LG U+ grows its awards haul since our last report six months ago from two awards to three sole wins plus one jointly won award.

Games Experience is jointly won by SK telecom and LG U+

LG U+ displaces KT, which tied with SK telecom in our last report. However, our users on all three operators enjoyed a Good mobile gaming experience with a narrow difference in scores between the three operators ranging from 77.6 on KT, 79.4 on SK telecom and 79.8 on LG U+ on our one hundred point scale.

LG U+ grabs the Voice App Experience award

Opensignal's Voice App Experience award has changed hands in this report. Last time, SK telecom won but now it has been narrowly beaten by LG U+ with a score of 83.3. There is little to choose between the operators with all three separated by under one point on our one hundred point scale.

Mobile Video Experience continues to be the best for SK telecom users

Streaming mobile video requires a consistent experience so playback does not stutter and audio plays seamlessly. Only SK telecom users enjoy an Excellent (75 or above) Video Experience in South Korea with a score almost unchanged since our last report. Our users on KT and LG U+ stayed in the Very Good category (65 < 75) this time although both operators saw their score increase slightly with KT only just missing out on reaching Excellent with a score of 74.5.

Social media sharing will be fastest on LG U+ as it wins the Upload Speed Experience award

Our LG U+ users have clearly the fastest upload speeds of South Korea's operators with a speed of 16.4 Mbps, ahead of SK telecom's 14.5 Mbps and KT's 12.3 Mbps. Upload speed is especially important for sharing videos and high quality images taken by the latest generation of smartphones where cameras now reach over 100 megapixels on popular Korean models.

Introduction

South Korea's mobile network experience continues to be one of the best in the world. While 5G adoption is very high compared with other countries, the majority of mobile users still use 4G and older technologies most of the time.

In this new report we again look at the overall mobile network experience of South Korean mobile users looking across all mobile technology generations and all our users in the country. The results here include measurements from 5G tests, as well as from older generations, to create the overall results for each operators

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, South Korea
December 2020, South Korea Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
December 2020, South Korea
Video Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
December 2020, South Korea
Games Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
SK telecom
75.8
LG U+
73.7
KT
74.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

Opensignal's Video Experience measures the experience of watching mobile video on smartphones based on measurements from our users. The approach combines these technical measures into a single score that reflects the perceived video quality using a mean opinion score model (MOS) with an ITU-based approach. We directly measure a range of video characteristics encountered by our users including video loading time and the stalling rate across a range of video resolutions.

In our latest analysis of South Korea's mobile video experience we see SK telecom users again enjoy the highest Video Experience score of 75.8 which places it into the Excellent category (75 and above) on a one hundred point scale. Both LG U+ and KT were again in the Very Good category (65 < 75) slightly behind the Video Experience award winner SK telecom.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
SK telecom
75.8
LG U+
73.7
KT
74.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience

Multiplayer mobile gaming is continuing to grow ever further in popularity as mobile networks improve response times and become more consistent in the experience they offer users. This is important because even a brief interruption to the mobile network experience can ruin a gaming session.

Opensignal's mobile Games Experience quantifies the experience when playing real-time multiplayer mobile games, popular examples include Lineage, PUBG Mobile, Among Us, or Arena of Valor. Opensignal's Games Experience measure is built on several years of research quantifying the relationship between technical network parameters and the gaming experience as reported by real mobile users. These parameters include latency (round trip time), jitter (variability of latency) and packet loss (the proportion of data packets that never reach their destination). Additionally, it considers multiple genres of multiplayer mobile games to measure the average sensitivity to network conditions.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
SK telecom
79.4
LG U+
79.8
KT
77.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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SK telecom and LG U+ jointly win the Games Experience award this time with scores of 79.4 and 79.8 which are a statistical tie because of overlapping confidence intervals. Since our last report, LG U+ has jumped over KT, leaving KT now in third place.

Voice App Experience

Opensignal's Voice App experience reflects the real-time communication using popular over-the-top apps. Popular examples of such apps include KaKaoTalk, LINE, Facetime or WhatsApp. The model characterizes the exact relationship between the technical measurements and perceived call quality using an ITU-based approach to create a score that reflects the perceived voice quality.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
SK telecom
82.9
LG U+
83.3
KT
82.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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LG U+ wins the Voice App Experience award this time, snatching the award from last report's winner, SK telecom. KT is again in third place with a slightly lower score. However, there is under one point separating the Voice App Experience on all three operators.

Download Speed Experience

SK telecom has a clear win in Download Speed Experience with an average speed of 74.5 Mbps, well ahead of LG U+ in second place with 56.0 Mbps and KT with 53.1 Mbps. The speed our SK telecom users have experienced has increased from 69.0 Mbps six months ago, in part due to rising 5G adoption and the much higher 5G speeds pushing up the overall average for SK telecom.

We've also seen similar speed increases on LG U+ and KT, where download speeds rose from 50.8 Mbps to 56 Mbps using LG U+ and from 48.1 Mbps to 53.1 Mbps with KT. Again, increasing 5G adoption is helping boost the overall experience on all three of South Korea's operators.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
SK telecom
74.5
LG U+
56.0
KT
53.1
0 18.75 37.5 56.25 75
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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This is an extremely impressive real-world speed that is only very slightly slower than the operator that won Opensignal's global Download Speed Experience award in summer 2020. Then, Telus won with 75.8 Mbps, with SK telecom in the chasing pack but much further behind than it is now. However, with fast rising 5G adoption in South Korea, SK telecom will hope to win a global Opensignal award in future to add to its collection of South Korea awards.

Upload Speed Experience

LG U+ has a clear win on Upload Speed Experience again with a speed of 16.4 Mbps, with SK telecom forced into second place and a score of 14.5 Mbps. This different result from our Download Speed Experience result highlights why it's important to look at both types of speed separately rather than combining them into a single speed result because it would hide which operator is best for uploading large files such as videos or images for social media.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
SK telecom
14.5
LG U+
16.4
KT
12.3
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Availability

4G is ubiquitous across South Korea. We see the time that smartphone users are able to connect to 4G services is approaching 100% of the time on all three operators. While 5G is fast growing in South Korea, most of today's 5G services use an early type of 5G technology — non-standalone access (NSA) — where a 5G smartphone has to be connected to a 4G signal at the same time as a 5G connection. With NSA, if there is no 4G service, there can be no 5G connection either. Therefore, it continues to be important to measure 4G Availability or the time users are able to connect to 4G.

When operators upgrade their core networks to a 5G cloud core, then they will be able to move on from this reliance on 4G and offer standalone 5G (SA) and launch newer versions of the 5G standard. This will enable South Korea's operators to offer even more capabilities, and most notably to improve latencies — the responsiveness of the network — which will benefit multiplayer mobile gaming, among other activities.

4G Availability
% of time
SK telecom
99.4
LG U+
99.7
KT
98.7
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Coverage Experience

4G Coverage Experience is a measure of how mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator's network. Measured on a scale of 0-10, it analyzes the locations where customers of a network operator received a 4G signal relative to the locations visited by users of all network operators.

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
SK telecom
9.9
LG U+
9.6
KT
9.8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

For the first time, Opensignal has analyzed the overall mobile experience across nineteen South Korean cities. We see a different balance of power, depending on the part of the country we consider.

In Seoul, LG U+ wins the mobile Games Experience award, unlike the national result, as well as winning Upload Speed Experience and Voice App Experience. SK telecom wins the other two awards: Video Experience and Download Speed Experience.

By contrast, if we look at Busan in the far south, we see a very different set of results. Video Experience is now tied between KT and SK telecom, the Games Experience is shared between SK telecom and LG U+, while all three share the Voice App Experience golden microphone.

In Daegu, there are also many joint wins, with only the Download Speed Experience award going to a single operator as SK telecom adds to its speed haul.

While Incheon is geographically close to Seoul, South Koreans must check to see how the winners differ. Here, SK telecom has to share the Video Experience award with both KT and LG U+ although Games Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Download Speed Experience go to the same winner as in Seoul.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Ansan

Video Experience
in Ansan
in 0-100 points
KT
74.9
LG U+
76.0
SK telecom
76.1
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Games Experience
in Ansan
in 0-100 points
KT
79.8
LG U+
79.5
SK telecom
81.8
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Voice App Experience
in Ansan
in 0-100 points
KT
83.7
LG U+
83.4
SK telecom
84.1
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Download Speed Experience
in Ansan
in Mbps
KT
47.1
LG U+
66.0
SK telecom
85.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Ansan
in Mbps
KT
11.9
LG U+
17.3
SK telecom
15.2
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4G Availability
in Ansan
in %
LG U+
99.8
KT
98.7
SK telecom
99.7
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Anyang

Video Experience
in Anyang
in 0-100 points
KT
73.4
LG U+
77.1
SK telecom
76.5
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Games Experience
in Anyang
in 0-100 points
KT
80.0
LG U+
80.0
SK telecom
81.3
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Voice App Experience
in Anyang
in 0-100 points
KT
83.8
LG U+
83.6
SK telecom
84.0
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Download Speed Experience
in Anyang
in Mbps
KT
54.8
LG U+
71.9
SK telecom
68.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Anyang
in Mbps
KT
13.6
LG U+
18.4
SK telecom
13.6
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4G Availability
in Anyang
in %
LG U+
99.9
KT
99.4
SK telecom
99.7
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Bucheon

Video Experience
in Bucheon
in 0-100 points
KT
76.2
LG U+
74.7
SK telecom
78.0
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Games Experience
in Bucheon
in 0-100 points
KT
82.4
LG U+
83.6
SK telecom
80.4
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Voice App Experience
in Bucheon
in 0-100 points
KT
84.4
LG U+
84.1
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Bucheon
in Mbps
KT
52.3
LG U+
61.4
SK telecom
82.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Bucheon
in Mbps
KT
13.8
LG U+
18.6
SK telecom
17.1
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4G Availability
in Bucheon
in %
KT
99.2
SK telecom
99.6
LG U+
99.8
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Busan

Video Experience
in Busan
in 0-100 points
KT
75.2
LG U+
73.7
SK telecom
75.4
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Games Experience
in Busan
in 0-100 points
KT
77.3
LG U+
82.1
SK telecom
82.2
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Voice App Experience
in Busan
in 0-100 points
KT
83.1
LG U+
83.8
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Busan
in Mbps
KT
49.0
LG U+
58.7
SK telecom
64.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Busan
in Mbps
KT
12.4
LG U+
16.5
SK telecom
15.2
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4G Availability
in Busan
in %
KT
98.5
LG U+
99.8
SK telecom
99.5
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Changwon

Video Experience
in Changwon
in 0-100 points
KT
73.1
LG U+
72.0
SK telecom
73.9
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Games Experience
in Changwon
in 0-100 points
KT
77.9
LG U+
81.9
SK telecom
81.7
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Voice App Experience
in Changwon
in 0-100 points
KT
83.7
LG U+
84.0
SK telecom
83.7
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Download Speed Experience
in Changwon
in Mbps
KT
45.5
LG U+
51.2
SK telecom
59.4
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Upload Speed Experience
in Changwon
in Mbps
KT
10.9
LG U+
13.7
SK telecom
14.1
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4G Availability
in Changwon
in %
SK telecom
99.2
LG U+
99.8
KT
98.6
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Cheongju

Video Experience
in Cheongju
in 0-100 points
KT
73.8
LG U+
73.2
SK telecom
76.8
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Games Experience
in Cheongju
in 0-100 points
KT
81.4
LG U+
82.1
SK telecom
82.0
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Voice App Experience
in Cheongju
in 0-100 points
KT
83.4
LG U+
84.6
SK telecom
84.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Cheongju
in Mbps
KT
52.0
LG U+
55.1
SK telecom
71.5
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Upload Speed Experience
in Cheongju
in Mbps
KT
11.2
LG U+
16.2
SK telecom
12.8
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4G Availability
in Cheongju
in %
SK telecom
99.4
LG U+
99.8
KT
98.7
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Daegu

Video Experience
in Daegu
in 0-100 points
KT
75.7
LG U+
74.2
SK telecom
75.4
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Games Experience
in Daegu
in 0-100 points
KT
79.6
LG U+
83.4
SK telecom
82.9
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Voice App Experience
in Daegu
in 0-100 points
KT
83.0
LG U+
84.1
SK telecom
83.8
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Download Speed Experience
in Daegu
in Mbps
KT
64.9
LG U+
58.4
SK telecom
71.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Daegu
in Mbps
KT
13.0
LG U+
15.1
SK telecom
15.4
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4G Availability
in Daegu
in %
KT
98.7
LG U+
99.7
SK telecom
99.6
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Daejeon

Video Experience
in Daejeon
in 0-100 points
KT
75.7
LG U+
76.1
SK telecom
75.6
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Games Experience
in Daejeon
in 0-100 points
KT
80.9
LG U+
81.2
SK telecom
81.1
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Voice App Experience
in Daejeon
in 0-100 points
KT
83.1
LG U+
83.9
SK telecom
83.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Daejeon
in Mbps
KT
55.6
LG U+
61.0
SK telecom
79.2
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Upload Speed Experience
in Daejeon
in Mbps
KT
10.0
LG U+
16.8
SK telecom
13.7
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4G Availability
in Daejeon
in %
KT
98.6
SK telecom
99.8
LG U+
99.7
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Goyang

Video Experience
in Goyang
in 0-100 points
KT
74.5
LG U+
73.1
SK telecom
76.2
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Games Experience
in Goyang
in 0-100 points
KT
80.2
LG U+
82.7
SK telecom
81.1
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Voice App Experience
in Goyang
in 0-100 points
KT
83.6
LG U+
84.2
SK telecom
83.7
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Download Speed Experience
in Goyang
in Mbps
KT
49.0
LG U+
60.0
SK telecom
74.8
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Upload Speed Experience
in Goyang
in Mbps
KT
12.7
LG U+
18.8
SK telecom
15.3
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4G Availability
in Goyang
in %
SK telecom
99.8
KT
98.7
LG U+
99.9
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Gwangju

Video Experience
in Gwangju
in 0-100 points
KT
75.5
LG U+
72.3
SK telecom
77.6
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Games Experience
in Gwangju
in 0-100 points
KT
81.2
LG U+
79.6
SK telecom
81.9
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Voice App Experience
in Gwangju
in 0-100 points
KT
83.2
LG U+
83.2
SK telecom
83.1
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Download Speed Experience
in Gwangju
in Mbps
KT
57.7
LG U+
60.9
SK telecom
90.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Gwangju
in Mbps
KT
12.5
LG U+
17.4
SK telecom
15.2
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4G Availability
in Gwangju
in %
KT
99.3
SK telecom
99.2
LG U+
99.9
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Hwaseong

Video Experience
in Hwaseong
in 0-100 points
KT
73.3
LG U+
71.9
SK telecom
75.6
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Games Experience
in Hwaseong
in 0-100 points
KT
79.0
LG U+
80.4
SK telecom
79.7
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Voice App Experience
in Hwaseong
in 0-100 points
KT
83.3
LG U+
83.7
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Hwaseong
in Mbps
KT
43.0
LG U+
38.6
SK telecom
70.4
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Upload Speed Experience
in Hwaseong
in Mbps
KT
11.2
LG U+
13.8
SK telecom
13.9
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4G Availability
in Hwaseong
in %
SK telecom
99.7
LG U+
99.8
KT
98.7
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Incheon

Video Experience
in Incheon
in 0-100 points
KT
75.3
LG U+
74.9
SK telecom
75.9
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Games Experience
in Incheon
in 0-100 points
KT
78.6
LG U+
82.2
SK telecom
80.4
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Voice App Experience
in Incheon
in 0-100 points
KT
83.3
LG U+
84.0
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Incheon
in Mbps
KT
51.5
LG U+
58.7
SK telecom
76.4
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Upload Speed Experience
in Incheon
in Mbps
KT
13.3
LG U+
17.7
SK telecom
14.3
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4G Availability
in Incheon
in %
SK telecom
99.4
LG U+
99.7
KT
98.5
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Jeonju

Video Experience
in Jeonju
in 0-100 points
KT
76.6
LG U+
73.6
SK telecom
76.7
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Games Experience
in Jeonju
in 0-100 points
KT
82.3
LG U+
80.2
SK telecom
83.8
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Voice App Experience
in Jeonju
in 0-100 points
KT
83.5
LG U+
84.2
SK telecom
83.6
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Download Speed Experience
in Jeonju
in Mbps
KT
62.6
LG U+
56.6
SK telecom
86.8
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Upload Speed Experience
in Jeonju
in Mbps
KT
12.0
LG U+
15.9
SK telecom
14.7
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4G Availability
in Jeonju
in %
LG U+
99.5
KT
98.8
SK telecom
99.5
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Pohang

Video Experience
in Pohang
in 0-100 points
KT
74.4
LG U+
69.1
SK telecom
73.6
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Games Experience
in Pohang
in 0-100 points
KT
80.5
LG U+
78.8
SK telecom
81.1
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Voice App Experience
in Pohang
in 0-100 points
KT
84.1
LG U+
83.1
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Pohang
in Mbps
KT
64.8
LG U+
36.0
SK telecom
66.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Pohang
in Mbps
KT
11.7
LG U+
12.5
SK telecom
14.7
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4G Availability
in Pohang
in %
KT
97.4
LG U+
99.9
SK telecom
99.8
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Seongnam

Video Experience
in Seongnam
in 0-100 points
KT
75.6
LG U+
74.7
SK telecom
77.6
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Games Experience
in Seongnam
in 0-100 points
KT
79.4
LG U+
82.4
SK telecom
81.5
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Voice App Experience
in Seongnam
in 0-100 points
KT
83.9
LG U+
84.4
SK telecom
83.8
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Download Speed Experience
in Seongnam
in Mbps
KT
52.1
LG U+
78.5
SK telecom
81.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Seongnam
in Mbps
KT
14.3
LG U+
18.7
SK telecom
15.3
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4G Availability
in Seongnam
in %
SK telecom
99.6
KT
99.3
LG U+
99.8
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Seoul

Video Experience
in Seoul
in 0-100 points
KT
75.7
LG U+
75.2
SK telecom
76.4
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Games Experience
in Seoul
in 0-100 points
KT
79.9
LG U+
83.0
SK telecom
80.2
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Voice App Experience
in Seoul
in 0-100 points
KT
83.4
LG U+
83.9
SK telecom
83.3
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Download Speed Experience
in Seoul
in Mbps
KT
55.3
LG U+
69.0
SK telecom
81.1
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Upload Speed Experience
in Seoul
in Mbps
KT
13.8
LG U+
20.7
SK telecom
16.3
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4G Availability
in Seoul
in %
SK telecom
99.5
LG U+
99.7
KT
98.8
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Suwon

Video Experience
in Suwon
in 0-100 points
KT
74.8
LG U+
74.9
SK telecom
76.7
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Games Experience
in Suwon
in 0-100 points
KT
78.8
LG U+
80.7
SK telecom
80.5
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Voice App Experience
in Suwon
in 0-100 points
KT
83.4
LG U+
83.7
SK telecom
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Suwon
in Mbps
KT
48.0
LG U+
67.1
SK telecom
75.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Suwon
in Mbps
KT
13.1
LG U+
17.8
SK telecom
15.3
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4G Availability
in Suwon
in %
LG U+
99.9
KT
99.0
SK telecom
99.7
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Uijeongbu

Video Experience
in Uijeongbu
in 0-100 points
KT
76.0
LG U+
72.6
SK telecom
76.6
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Games Experience
in Uijeongbu
in 0-100 points
KT
80.4
LG U+
81.8
SK telecom
81.3
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Voice App Experience
in Uijeongbu
in 0-100 points
KT
83.6
LG U+
83.7
SK telecom
84.3
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Download Speed Experience
in Uijeongbu
in Mbps
KT
57.6
LG U+
47.0
SK telecom
86.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Uijeongbu
in Mbps
KT
14.3
LG U+
16.6
SK telecom
17.6
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4G Availability
in Uijeongbu
in %
KT
99.7
SK telecom
99.5
LG U+
99.9
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Ulsan

Video Experience
in Ulsan
in 0-100 points
KT
73.7
LG U+
73.2
SK telecom
75.5
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Games Experience
in Ulsan
in 0-100 points
KT
76.3
LG U+
81.3
SK telecom
80.2
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Voice App Experience
in Ulsan
in 0-100 points
KT
83.3
LG U+
83.8
SK telecom
83.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Ulsan
in Mbps
KT
47.3
LG U+
52.3
SK telecom
65.5
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Upload Speed Experience
in Ulsan
in Mbps
KT
10.8
LG U+
15.0
SK telecom
14.4
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4G Availability
in Ulsan
in %
LG U+
99.5
KT
99.1
SK telecom
99.3
Download Image
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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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