The three major mobile operators in South Korea will work together to launch 5G networks at the same time in 2019 to “avoid excessive competition” and ensure the country is the first to launch the next-generation technology, domestic media reported.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus agreed to jointly introduce 5G services on “Korea 5G Day”, which is likely to be in March 2019, Joongang Daily reported.

Minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young-min noted the operators will also cooperate with small and mid-sized companies in the country to develop relevant 5G use cases for businesses.

Yonhap News Agency quoted Yoo as saying: “It is important for mobile carriers to avoid heated competition for the title of world’s first 5G service provider.”

A month ago the government raised KRW3.61 trillion ($3.3 billion) in one of the world’s first 5G auctions, with the country’s three mobile operators acquiring 280MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum and 2,400MHz of airwaves in the 28GHz band.

In January Yoo asked the country’s three major wireless operators to collaborate on 5G technology to meet a previously agreed timeline for commercial operations in 2019.

The government in April mandated the operators collaborate on 5G deployments by sharing core fibre infrastructure, rather than RANs, in a bid to reduce the cost of rolling out the technology and so enable operators to pass on the savings to customers.

Operators previously said they plan to launch commercial 5G services in 2019: KT detailed a plan to begin in March.