Wednesday, 21 April 2021

MVNOs set to challenge for 5G market in South Korea

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 01 April 21

Thanks to new regulations, ten mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are set to release low-cost 5G data plans that could undercut the nation’s trio of major operators

The South Korean 5G market is arguably the most advanced in the world, with an uptake rate operators in the rest of the world can only dream of. By February this year, 5G subscriptions stood at 13.66 million, an increase of almost 800,000 from the previous month. For a population of around 52 million people…

The South Korean 5G market is arguably the most advanced in the world, with an uptake rate operators in the rest of the world can only dream of. By February this year, 5G subscriptions stood at 13.66 million, an increase of almost 800,000 from the previous month. For a population of around 52 million people, this is an incredible figure, representing almost 20% of total mobile subscriptions in the country.
 
However, while 5G is booming, competition in the South Korean mobile market remains problematic. Of these almost 13.7 million 5G subscriptions, only around 7,000 are via MVNOs, with the rest being customers of SK Telecom, KT, or LG Uplus. This lack of competition can lead to expensive price plans, something which the government is keen to avoid as it aims to drive 5G adoption for the entire nation.
 
As a result, three months ago the government revised regulations, allowing MVNOs to set 5G data rates themselves, without coordinating with the network supplier. Thanks to this change, now around 10 MVNOs, including Sejong Telecom, are set to release low-cost 5G data plans later this month, according to Yonhap News Agency.
 
These new data plans will undercut similar plans from the trio of major operators, potentially being as cheap as 40,000 Korean won ($35.39) per month for 30GB of data.
 
The arrival of cheaper data plans could not come at a more fortuitous time for the South Korean market, with over 1,000 5G subscribers last month planning joint legal action against SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus as a result of their 5G services not living up to expectations in terms of quality. The additional competition provided by these cheaper MVNO data plans could be just what the three dominant operators need to ensure that their services remain the best quality.
 
 
What lessons can operators in the rest of the world learn from South Korea’s 5G success? Check out Total Telecom’s recent webinar featuring the ex-CEO of LG Uplus here 
 
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