Korea’s largest mobile telecom has activated 5G service for five Korean celebrities in what the company says is a global-first.
“The world’s first 5G smartphone subscribers are Baek-hyun and Kai from EXO (K-pop idol group), Kim Yu-na (Olympic medalist), Lee Sang-hyeok (“Faker,” esports player), Yoon Sung-hyuk (para-swimmer) and Park Jae-won (SK Telecom’s longest subscriber),” SK Telecom says in a release.
Technically speaking, since SK Telecom included its longest subscriber in the initial activation group, that would be four celebrities.
SK Telecom has installed about 35,000 5G base stations, says Radovan Sernec, a telecoms engineer and chief of innovation at AV Living Lab. That will give them significant cover in Seoul at least, while giving early subscribers a true taste of 5G’s capability.
“It will be valuable feedback for release 17 of 3GPP, the next phase of the 5G standard,” he told me.
If you’d care to join these early 5G subscribers, you’ll need to live in Korea.
And you better want a new Galaxy S10 phone.
The company will start signing up everyday customers to its 5G service in stores and online starting April 5, with activations of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G.
5G, of course, promises much faster speeds than current 4G technology — up to 20 gigabytes/second. That kind of speed will enable huge changes in how we use mobile technology, enabling richer spatial computing such as augmented reality and more capability for connected and autonomous cars.
Early deployments, however, don’t typically reach anywhere near that speed.
One caution: 5G uses significantly higher-frequency radio waves than 4G, and that’s causing some scientists to sound calls for additional testing on potential health impacts.