South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom (SKT) took the next step towards a goal of commercialising standalone (SA) 5G in early 2020 by completing an end-to-end test of the architecture in conjunction with Ericsson.

The operator claimed the test was the first of its kind in the country and was conducted using commercial terminals, and Ericsson’s base station and core equipment.

In a statement, SKT highlighted development of network slicing and mobile edge computing as key focus areas of the test. It plans to launch the technologies in H1 2020, as part of its SA push.

The operator added SA delivers a connection time more than twice as fast as its current NSA set-up, with a three-times improvement in data processing efficiency.

Park Jin-hyo, head of SKT’s ICT Technology Centre, said: “The success of 5G SA data communication will be the cornerstone of the true 5G era, and will be the foundation for innovation and change in the entire industry.”

The operator said it reached the 1 million 5G subscriber milestone on 21 August, a little over four months after it lit its NSA network in a simultaneous launch with rivals KT and LG Uplus.