Samsung claimed to have supplied the greatest number of 5G base stations to South Korean operators, which lit their commercial consumer services on 5 April.

In a statement, Samsung said it delivered more than 53,000 5G base stations, which would give it a 62 per cent share based on the number of sites the operators said they had deployed when they launched their consumer offering.

Market leader SK Telecom claimed 38,000 base stations, KT 30,000 and LG Plus 18,000.

The operators state the service is available in 85 cities, though The Korea Herald said about 85 per cent of the 5G base stations were located in six cities including Seoul, Busan and Daegu.

Gaining knowledge
Cheun Kyungwhoon, head of Samsung’s networks business, said in a statement sent to Mobile World Live that by supplying 5G equipment to all three operators, it learned there are different paths to 5G deployments.

For example, he explained one operator transmits aggregated 4G and 5G signals to maximise speeds, while another focuses on 5G to provide minimum latency.

He was referring to SK Telecom’s implemention of a dual-connectivity strategy using LTE and 5G networks to achieve peak data rates of more than 2Gb/s. Rival KT, meanwhile, uses either LTE or 5G in the downlink: the approach restricts the peak data rate to around 1Gb/s, but with lower latency.

Simple installation
Cheun said the Massive MIMO unit deployed by the Korean operators is among the smallest and lightest in the industry, “ensuring they can be easily installed” in operators’ existing cellular sites with “minimal changes”.

He noted the ability to reuse existing sites had been key to enabling operators in Korea to deploy a 5G network consisting of tens of thousands of radios within just a few months.

The virtualised 5G core used by all three operators supports both legacy 4G networks 5G services in non-standalone mode and can also migrate to standalone through a simple software upgrade, he said.

Samsung is also a supplier of 5G gear to US-based Verizon which launched its mobile 5G service in two cities last week: it plans to expand coverage to 30 cities this year.