iPhone 12 5G serviced by carrier LG Uplus hit an average download speed of 625.03Mbps in Seoul in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to speed testing firm Ookla.
SK Telecom offered 500.31Mbps and KT 393.95Mbps.
This is despite LG Uplus having only 80% of the bandwidth for 5G compared to SK Telecom and KT.
LG Uplus uses 80MHz __ between 3.43GHz and 3.5GHz. SK Telecom (3.5GHz to 3.6GHz) and KT (3.6GHz to 3.7GHz) uses 100MHz each.
In 3.5GHz spectrum auction in 2018, SK Telecom spent 1.21 trillion won, KT 968 billion won and LG Uplus 809.5 billion won.
Conventionally, the more spectrum bandwidth is used by a carrier, the fast the speed becomes. LG Uplus had built its 5G network in Seoul using Huawei’s kit, while SK Telecom and KT used those by Samsung Electronics.
This is not the first time that LG Uplus has ranked first in speed testing. UK firm Opensignal measured the average download speed offered by the three Korean carriers between June and September last year. At the time, LG Uplus marked 363.7Mbps, SK Telecom 347.8Mbps and KT 329.3Mbps. The ranking was the same despite Opensignal using different methodology for testing to Ookla.
Test results of Opensignal and Ookla are widely used by companies, such as Qualcomm and T-Mobile. They speed test using user’s devices such as iPhones.
Meanwhile, testing done by the Ministry of Science and ICT last year showed different results. Measuring 5G download speed for the second half of 2020, the ministry said SK Telecom offered an average of 816.4Mbps in Seoul, followed by KT’s 749.69Mbps and LG Uplus’ 676.22Mbps. The ministry sends agents with devices with measurement tools installed and have them measure the three carrier’s signal in the same area at the same time. Measurements are made over 50 times at the same location, according to the ministry.
A person familiar with the matter said the ministry doesn’t tell carriers which base station they will measure at what time.
Sometimes carriers would send multiple engineers to amp up the output of base stations in certain areas, with agents arriving there later that day to measure speed, they said. Other rival carriers would sometime follow suit when another carrier amps up the output of base stations of certain areas, they added.