South Korea

5G Experience Report
December 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

SK telecom and LG U+ break the 400 Mbps barrier in 5G Download Speed

While SK telecom wins the 5G Download Speed award, our users on all three operators have seen their 5G download speeds increase since the last report. On two operators, our users see average 5G download speeds go over 400 Mbps: LG U+ users reached 414 Mbps, up from 355.4 Mbps and SK telecom users saw an even greater increase with 5G Download Speed rising from 399.3 Mbps to now hit 467.4 Mbps.

5G Upload Speed is won again by SK telecom

With an average 5G upload speed of 37.6 Mbps our SK telecom users have the fastest average experience when sharing files or media. LG U+ pulls clear of KT — with which it tied last time — to be second with a 5G Upload Speed score of 33.2 Mbps, up from 27.5 Mbps in the previous report.

KT is forced to share the prize in 5G Games Experience

All three operators jointly win the award with statistically tied scores of 91, 91.5 and 91.3 on a 100-point scale. This means LG U+ and SK telecom have caught up with KT, which previously won this award outright. 5G Games Experience quantifies the quality of smartphone users' experience when playing real-time multiplayer games over 5G networks.

SK telecom leaps ahead on 5G Availability and 5G Reach to win both awards

In the last report, all three operators had an identical score of 5.7 for 5G Reach on a 10 point scale. But now SK telecom leads with a score of 6.5 ahead of KT and LG U+ which are tied on 6.2. On 5G Availability, SK telecom has jumped from third place to first since the last report. SK telecom users had an active 5G connection 30.8% of the time, ahead of KT with a 5G Availability score of 28.6% and LG U+ with 26.3%.

LG U+ and SK telecom jointly win 5G Voice App Experience

Two operators narrowly win the award with statistically tied scores of 84.6 for LG U+ and 84.8 for SK telecom on a 100 point scale. KT is close behind with a score of 84.4. 5G Voice App Experience analyzes the use of real-time voice communications with popular apps, examples of this type of app include: KakaoTalk, LINE, Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp when connected with 5G technology.

Introduction

South Korea is arguably the leading 5G market globally because of very high 5G adoption and an extremely good standard of 5G experience. At the end of September, the three mobile operators reported in their financial results a combined 18.4 million 5G subscriptions out of a population of 51 million inhabitants of which SK telecom reported 8.7m, KT 5.6m and LG U+ 4.1m 5G subscriptions.

South Korea also topped many of the categories in Opensignal's Global 5G Benchmark analysis just published on November 30. South Korea was in the top spot for 5G Download Speed, 5G Games Experience, 5G Voice App Experience and 5G Availability.

However, despite South Korea's strong 5G experience and high levels of adoption, expectations have also been very high among Koreans and there has been some disappointment with 5G as a result. Opensignal has also published a companion report on the overall mobile experience of all users in South Korea across all generations of mobile technology including 5G.

Opensignal Awards Table

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

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
KT
28.6
LG U+
26.3
SK telecom
30.8
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

SK telecom takes the 5G Availability award with a score of 30.8% up from 25.6% in the previous Opensignal report. KT is in second place, as users had an active 5G connection 28.6% of the time ahead of LG U+ with a score of 26.3%. Previously SK telecom was in third and KT and LG U+ had jointly won the Opensignal 5G Availability award.

5G Availability
in %
KT
28.6
LG U+
26.3
SK telecom
30.8
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Reach

When we consider the share of locations where Opensignal users have seen a 5G signal, SK telecom also comes out on top now. SK telecom scored 6.5 for 5G Reach on a 10-point scale, ahead of KT and LG U+ which were tied with a score of 6.2.

All three operators saw their 5G Reach score increase since the last report. Then, all three scored an identical 5.7. However, SK telecom's score has risen by more than KT and LG U+'s 5G Reach score to win the award outright this time.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
KT
6.2
LG U+
6.2
SK telecom
6.5
0 1.875 3.75 5.625 7.5
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

In 5G Video Experience, SK telecom holds onto its award with a score of 80.7 on a 100-point scale. However, KT and LG U+ are close behind with statistically tied scores of 79.1 and 78.3.

On all three operators Opensignal users had an Excellent (75 or above) 5G Video Experience. This means there was a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

5G Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over operators' 5G networks. The metric is derived from an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approach, built upon detailed studies which have derived a relationship between real-world technical parameters that Opensignal measures at scale — including picture quality, video loading time and stall rate — with the perceived video experience as reported by real people.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
79.1
LG U+
78.3
SK telecom
80.7
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

In perhaps the greatest prize to compete for given the popularity of multiplayer games in the country — 5G Games Experience — there is nothing to separate the scores on all three operators who share the 5G Games Experience award with scores of 91 or just over on a 100-point scale. All three operators rank as Excellent (85 or above) meaning that 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.

In the last Opensignal 5G Experience report KT won the 5G Games Experience award outright. But now SK telecom and LG U+ have closed the gap with KT.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
91.0
LG U+
91.5
SK telecom
91.3
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 win the 5G Voice App Experience award with statistically tied scores of 84.6 and 84.8, respectively, on a 100-point scale. 5G Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience on 5G networks for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — examples of such mobile voice apps include LINE, WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger — using a model derived from an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approach for quantifying overall voice call quality and a series of calibrated technical parameters. This model characterizes the exact relationship between the technical measurements measured across Opensignal users in the real world and perceived call quality.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
KT
84.4
LG U+
84.6
SK telecom
84.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

All three operators increased their 5G Download Speed score in this report compared with the previous Opensignal report. Our KT users' average 5G download speed increased from 327.4 Mbps to 367.6 Mbps now. But most striking is the experience of our LG U+ and SK telecom users who saw their speeds pass the 400 Mbps mark.

Using LG U+ our users saw average 5G download speeds jump from 355.4 Mbps to 414 Mbps. Even more impressively, our SK telecom users' 5G Download Speed increased from 399.3 Mbps to hit 467.4 Mbps now and as a result SK telecom wins the 5G Download Speed award.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
KT
367.6
LG U+
414.0
SK telecom
467.4
0 117.5 235 352.5 470
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Upload Speed

SK telecom also wins the 5G Upload Speed award outright with a speed of 37.6 Mbps. LG U+ is second with a score of 33.2 Mbps experienced by our LG U+ users and KT is third with 28.2 Mbps.

While KT users saw a very limited change in their average 5G upload speed (27.1 Mbps vs 28.2 Mbps) since the last report, our users on both other operators saw a significant increase. For both our LG U+ users and our SK telecom users they saw speeds break the 30 Mbps mark, rising from 27.5 Mbps previously for LG U+ and from 29.5 Mbps for our SK telecom users last time.

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
KT
28.2
LG U+
33.2
SK telecom
37.6
0 10 20 30 40
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

Opensignal has again analyzed the 5G experience across five regions: Chungcheong, Gangwon, Gyeongsan, Jeolla and Sudogwon.

In most regional contests, the results are so close that two or more operators jointly win the categories. There are a number of noticeable exceptions.

SK telecom wins the 5G Download Speed award outright in Chungeong, Gyeongsan, Jeolla and Sudogwon. It's also the sole winner for 5G Video Experience, 5G Availability and 5G Upload Speed in the region around the capital, Sudogwon. Similarly, it picks up four awards outright in Gyeongsan.

LG U+ wins the 5G Reach award outright in Jeolla — this is the only clear sole win for either KT or LG U+ across the regions.

Select any region or city below to display individual breakdown

Chungcheong

5G Availability
in Chungcheong
in %
KT
24.2
LG U+
27.8
SK telecom
28.8
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5G Reach
in Chungcheong
in 0-10 points
KT
4.3
LG U+
5.2
SK telecom
4.8
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5G Video Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
80.0
LG U+
78.8
SK telecom
80.2
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5G Games Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
91.1
LG U+
91.4
SK telecom
90.5
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5G Voice App Experience
in Chungcheong
in 0-100 points
KT
84.6
LG U+
84.8
SK telecom
85.0
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5G Download Speed
in Chungcheong
in Mbps
KT
398.5
LG U+
401.2
SK telecom
449.5
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5G Upload Speed
in Chungcheong
in Mbps
KT
23.0
LG U+
38.8
SK telecom
38.2
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Gangwon

5G Availability
in Gangwon
in %
KT
24.0
LG U+
22.8
SK telecom
21.8
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5G Reach
in Gangwon
in 0-10 points
KT
3.9
LG U+
3.6
SK telecom
3.3
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5G Video Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
80.1
LG U+
80.2
SK telecom
82.1
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5G Games Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
94.0
LG U+
92.5
SK telecom
94.2
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5G Voice App Experience
in Gangwon
in 0-100 points
KT
85.1
LG U+
84.9
SK telecom
85.4
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5G Download Speed
in Gangwon
in Mbps
KT
385.7
LG U+
464.2
SK telecom
509.6
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5G Upload Speed
in Gangwon
in Mbps
KT
31.3
LG U+
32.3
SK telecom
37.8
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Gyeongsan

5G Availability
in Gyeongsan
in %
KT
29.1
LG U+
22.1
SK telecom
30.5
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5G Reach
in Gyeongsan
in 0-10 points
KT
5.3
LG U+
5.3
SK telecom
5.9
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5G Video Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
78.7
LG U+
77.8
SK telecom
81.4
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5G Games Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
91.3
LG U+
92.4
SK telecom
93.6
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5G Voice App Experience
in Gyeongsan
in 0-100 points
KT
84.5
LG U+
84.8
SK telecom
84.5
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5G Download Speed
in Gyeongsan
in Mbps
KT
376.1
LG U+
411.4
SK telecom
447.0
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5G Upload Speed
in Gyeongsan
in Mbps
KT
28.1
LG U+
21.9
SK telecom
35.0
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Jeolla

5G Availability
in Jeolla
in %
KT
20.2
LG U+
26.9
SK telecom
23.9
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5G Reach
in Jeolla
in 0-10 points
KT
4.3
LG U+
5.2
SK telecom
4.3
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5G Video Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
78.2
LG U+
77.0
SK telecom
81.3
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5G Games Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
91.3
LG U+
90.0
SK telecom
93.0
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5G Voice App Experience
in Jeolla
in 0-100 points
KT
84.9
LG U+
84.2
SK telecom
84.8
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5G Download Speed
in Jeolla
in Mbps
KT
408.1
LG U+
353.4
SK telecom
508.8
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5G Upload Speed
in Jeolla
in Mbps
KT
25.4
LG U+
32.0
SK telecom
30.1
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Sudogwon

5G Availability
in Sudogwon
in %
KT
32.5
LG U+
29.8
SK telecom
34.1
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5G Reach
in Sudogwon
in 0-10 points
KT
6.9
LG U+
6.7
SK telecom
7.1
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5G Video Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
79.3
LG U+
78.5
SK telecom
80.3
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5G Games Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
91.1
LG U+
91.4
SK telecom
90.1
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5G Voice App Experience
in Sudogwon
in 0-100 points
KT
84.5
LG U+
84.5
SK telecom
84.9
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5G Download Speed
in Sudogwon
in Mbps
KT
355.9
LG U+
419.6
SK telecom
473.3
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5G Upload Speed
in Sudogwon
in Mbps
KT
29.5
LG U+
36.0
SK telecom
39.2
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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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