UPDATED. 2020-10-25 15:43 (일)
Korean tech ministry mulls 5G quality assessment 
Korean tech ministry mulls 5G quality assessment 
  • Jong Jun Lee
  • 승인 2020.06.05 20:09
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It will decide whether to announce the average download speed of each telco
Image: Ministry of Science and ICT
Image: Ministry of Science and ICT

South Korea’s tech ministry was mulling how to properly announce the 5G network quality ratings of local telcos, people familiar with the matter told TheElec Friday.

The Ministry of Science and ICT was hesitating over whether to rank the telcos or announce each telco’s average download speeds on their respective 5G networks without ranking them.

The review for the matter started this month, the people said.

In January, the ministry has said it wanted to publish the ratings to encourage local telcos __ SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus __ to compete in investing on their networks rather than spending money on smartphone subsidies.

Officials of the telcos said they were currently not confident about their scores for the quality assessment due to their delayed investment into 5G networks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of the officials said for 4G LTE, the telcos had agreed not to use public data on network quality for their advertisement. Despite whatever decision is made by the ministry, they also expected full data to be disclosed at the National Assembly eventually down the road.

The ministry only revealed the average rates for categories such as latency for 4G LTE last year. However, it did reveal precise figures for important categories such as download speed.

Last year, SK Telecom was shown to offer an average download speed of 211.37Mbps on its LTE network. KT’s was 153.59Mbps and LG Uplus 110.62Mbps.

Spectrum width determines download speeds, and SK Telecom had the most LTE spectrum with 135MHz. KT and LG each had 105MHz and 100MHz.

For 5G spectrum, SK Telecom and KT both use 100MHz. LG Uplus use 80MHz. SK Telecom and KT has used Samsung Electronics equipment for their 5G networks in Seoul, the country’s capital, while LG Uplus used Huawei’s.

According to Opensignal, LG Uplus had the highest 5G network download speed at 238.7Mbps. SK Telecom and KT marked 220.6Mbps and 215Mbps, respectively.

“Opensignal’s data used a smartphone app rather than proper measuring equipment, so it is meaningless,” an official of one of the telcos said. “Despite that fact, telcos are always sensitive to such data due to public perception.”

Ministry’s quality assessment is done by the National Information Society Agency, a subsidiary agency. It uses measuring equipment from local company Innowireless and conducts over 50 tests per designated areas.

A spokesperson for the ministry said that it was aware of the sensitivity of the issue and it will commence a comprehensive review when all available data are collected to decide which course is the best.


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