South Korea

5G User Experience Report
June 2021

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

KT wins the first 5G Games Experience award in South Korea

With one of the highest scores Opensignal has seen globally, Korea Telecom scored 91.3 on the 100 point scale, meaning users had an Excellent (85 or above) multiplayer gaming experience using 5G. Games Experience quantifies the relationship between technical network parameters and the gaming experience as reported by real mobile users for popular genres of mobile games such as battle royale titles (e.g. PUBG, Fortnite) and massive online battle arena games (e.g. Arena of Valor).

SK telecom users have an amazing average 5G Download Speed of 399.3 Mbps

For the second time, SK telecom wins the award with our users seeing an increase in their 5G Download Speed from 361.4 Mbps in the last report to 399.3 Mbps. LG U+ is second, with a 5G Download Speed score of 355.4 Mbps, also increasing over the last report. However, KT users' 5G Download Speed dropped slightly from 338.5 Mbps to 327.4 Mbps.

All operators rate as Excellent, but SK telecom wins the 5G Video Experience award

SK telecom wins the first Opensignal 5G Video Experience award in South Korea. The winning score of 83.1 is just ahead of KT on 82.5 and LG U+ on 81.7. However all three operators are in the Excellent (75 or above) category on the 100 point scale. Opensignal's Video Experience uses a combination of real-world measurements of video streams from smartphone users — including picture quality, stall rate, loading time — to reflect the perceived video experience of users using an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) derived approach.

South Korea's operators are very close on 5G Reach and 5G Availability

LG U+ and KT jointly win the 5G Availability award with statistically tied scores of 26.9% of time connected to 5G for KT users and 26.3% for LG U+. Similarly, we find little difference between the three operators on 5G Reach because KT, LG U+ and SK telecom scored an identical 5.7 on the 10 point scale. 5G Reach quantifies the share of locations where users experience 5G services compared with all of the locations users visit.

Sharing files, photos and video is fastest for SK telecom users with 5G

The 5G Upload Speed Experience award is won by SK telecom with our users seeing an average 5G Upload Speed of 29.5 Mbps, ahead of KT and LG U+ who are statistically tied with upload speeds of 27.1 Mbps and 27.5 Mbps respectively.

Introduction

It is now over two years since South Korea's operators first launched 5G, but the market continues to grow. At the end of April, there were almost 14.5 million 5G subscriptions. The country's three operators have also agreed to share their 5G networks in rural areas which should further expand the reach of 5G with lower network investment needed by each operator.

In Opensignal's new report into the 5G experience in South Korea for the first time we analyze the 5G Games Experience, 5G Video Experience, 5G Voice App Experience, 5G Upload Speed Experience and 5G Reach and give the first awards for all of these new categories.

Despite South Koreans enjoying some of the best 5G mobile experiences anywhere in the world and South Korea topped the 5G experience rankings across the Asia Pacific region for 5G Download Speed, 5G Games Experience, and 5G Voice App experience and coming second for all the remaining categories There is a small group of mobile users that are taking legal action over network quality because their expectations have not been met. However, the 5G results in this and other Opensignal reports demonstrate that the 5G experience is actually extremely good in South Korea.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, South Korea
June 2021, South Korea Report
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
June 2021, South Korea
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
June 2021, South Korea
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Voice App Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
KT
26.9
LG U+
26.3
SK telecom
25.6
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

5G Availability represents the proportion of time that 5G users spend with an active 5G connection. Opensignal users see 5G service for over one quarter of their time which is an extremely impressive result.

KT and LG U+ jointly win the 5G Availability award this time with scores that are statistically tied. Notably, while LG U+ was also a joint winner of this award in Opensignal's last report, now KT has replaced SK telecom as a winner. This is because KT's 5G Availability score has risen more than SK telecom over the last six months, increasing by almost six percentage points compared to SK telecom's increase of approximately one percentage point.

5G Availability
in %
KT
26.9
LG U+
26.3
SK telecom
25.6
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Reach

There is nothing to separate the three operators on 5G Reach with all three scoring 5.7 on the 10 point scale. 5G Reach represents the share of locations where users see 5G service compared with all of the locations that they visit.

As a measure of the location experience, 5G Reach demonstrates the challenges of indoor experience when we compare these results with those for 5G Availability because 5G Availability is more sensitive to mobile experience at home or at work where users spend most of their time. While our users spend approximately one quarter of their time connected to 5G — 5G Availability — they experience 5G in over half of the locations that they visit.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
KT
5.7
LG U+
5.7
SK telecom
5.7
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

Opensignal's 5G Video Experience quantifies how users view mobile video streaming in the real world. SK telecom wins the inaugural Opensignal 5G Video Experience award with a score of 83.1, but only slightly higher than KT's score of 82.5 on the 100 point scale. Notably, the gap between operators for 5G Video Experience is much less than it is for 5G Download Speed indicating that speed alone is not a good guide to all aspects of users' mobile experience.

Across all three operators, our users enjoyed an Excellent (75 or above) 5G mobile video experience, which indicates that video streams were very consistent across content providers and resolutions tested with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
82.5
LG U+
81.7
SK telecom
83.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

Both KT and SK telecom score over 90 on the 100 point scale for 5G Games Experience which is an impressive result compared with other markets. KT wins Opensignal's first 5G Games Experience award in South Korea with a score of 91.3 ahead of SK telecom's score of 90.1 and LG U+ on 89.6.

All three operators ranked as Excellent (85 or above) for 5G Games Experience meaning that the vast majority of users deemed their network experience acceptable. Nearly all respondents felt like they had control over the game and they received immediate feedback on their actions. There was not a noticeable delay in almost all cases.

Opensignal's Games Experience analyzes how the multiplayer mobile Games Experience is affected by mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter to determine the impact on gameplay. The approach is built on 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 including massive online battle arena (MOBA) and battle royale because both are sensitive to network conditions.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
91.3
LG U+
89.6
SK telecom
90.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

LG U+ and SK telecom jointly won the first 5G Voice App Experience award in South Korea with scores of 85 and 85.1 respectively on the 100 point scale. Opensignal's Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — mobile voice apps such as KakaoTalk, LINE and WhatsApp — using a model derived from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-based approach for quantifying overall voice call quality and a series of calibrated technical parameters. This model characterizes the exact relationship between the technical measurements and perceived call quality.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
84.8
LG U+
85.0
SK telecom
85.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

With an average 5G Download Speed of 399.3 Mbps, our SK telecom users saw the fastest speeds in South Korea. Download speeds using 5G continued to trend upwards for users on both SK telecom and LG U+ in the six months since Opensignal's last report. However, KT has seen its users' 5G speeds stagnate with 5G Download Speed reducing from 338.5 Mbps to 327.4 Mbps in this report.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
KT
327.4
LG U+
355.4
SK telecom
399.3
0 100 200 300 400
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Upload Speed

SK telecom also wins Opensignal's other 5G speed award, with its users seeing the fastest 5G Upload Speed of 29.5 Mbps ahead of KT and LG U+ in joint second with their users' speed of 27.1 Mbps and 27.5 Mbps respectively. Upload speeds are important for mobile users uploading photos or videos to social networks, sending office documents by email or messaging apps, and also for using virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect to enterprise networks remotely.

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
KT
27.1
LG U+
27.5
SK telecom
29.5
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

Select any region or city below to display individual breakdown

Chungcheong

5G Availability
in Chungcheong
in %
KT
22.3
LG U+
25.9
SK telecom
23.9
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5G Reach
in Chungcheong
in 0-10 points
KT
4.1
LG U+
4.6
SK telecom
4.3
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5G Video Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
81.7
LG U+
81.7
SK telecom
82.3
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5G Games Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
92.2
LG U+
91.0
SK telecom
90.3
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5G Voice App Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
85.2
LG U+
85.6
SK telecom
85.2
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5G Download Speed
in Chungcheong
in Mbps
KT
309.7
LG U+
332.4
SK telecom
394.3
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5G Upload Speed
in Chungcheong
in Mbps
KT
18.3
LG U+
27.9
SK telecom
29.0
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Gangwon

5G Availability
in Gangwon
in %
KT
22.9
LG U+
23.4
SK telecom
16.6
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5G Reach
in Gangwon
in 0-10 points
KT
4.0
LG U+
4.0
SK telecom
2.9
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5G Video Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
83.7
LG U+
81.6
SK telecom
83.7
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5G Games Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
94.2
LG U+
94.0
SK telecom
93.1
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5G Voice App Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
85.7
LG U+
85.8
SK telecom
85.6
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5G Download Speed
in Gangwon
in Mbps
KT
348.5
LG U+
386.3
SK telecom
452.3
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5G Upload Speed
in Gangwon
in Mbps
KT
33.2
LG U+
31.2
SK telecom
23.1
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Gyeongsan

5G Availability
in Gyeongsan
in %
KT
26.3
LG U+
22.5
SK telecom
27.3
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5G Reach
in Gyeongsan
in 0-10 points
KT
4.9
LG U+
5.0
SK telecom
5.2
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5G Video Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
82.5
LG U+
81.7
SK telecom
83.7
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5G Games Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
90.9
LG U+
84.9
SK telecom
93.7
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5G Voice App Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
84.6
LG U+
84.9
SK telecom
85.4
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5G Download Speed
in Gyeongsan
in Mbps
KT
335.4
LG U+
321.3
SK telecom
398.3
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5G Upload Speed
in Gyeongsan
in Mbps
KT
25.5
LG U+
18.4
SK telecom
26.8
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Jeolla

5G Availability
in Jeolla
in %
KT
18.7
LG U+
25.0
SK telecom
17.9
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5G Reach
in Jeolla
in 0-10 points
KT
4.0
LG U+
4.5
SK telecom
4.0
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5G Video Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
82.5
LG U+
81.1
SK telecom
83.0
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5G Games Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
88.7
LG U+
88.1
SK telecom
89.3
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5G Voice App Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
84.4
LG U+
85.2
SK telecom
85.0
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5G Download Speed
in Jeolla
in Mbps
KT
374.9
LG U+
342.1
SK telecom
423.6
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5G Upload Speed
in Jeolla
in Mbps
KT
19.6
LG U+
26.3
SK telecom
22.3
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Sudogwon

5G Availability
in Sudogwon
in %
KT
31.2
LG U+
29.7
SK telecom
28.5
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5G Reach
in Sudogwon
in 0-10 points
KT
6.3
LG U+
6.0
SK telecom
6.2
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5G Video Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
82.6
LG U+
81.7
SK telecom
83.0
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5G Games Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
92.0
LG U+
91.2
SK telecom
88.6
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5G Voice App Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
84.9
LG U+
84.9
SK telecom
84.9
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5G Download Speed
in Sudogwon
in Mbps
KT
320.4
LG U+
369.3
SK telecom
398.7
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5G Upload Speed
in Sudogwon
in Mbps
KT
30.2
LG U+
30.2
SK telecom
31.4
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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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