South Koreans currently enjoy the world's fastest Internet speeds, so it makes sense that they would be the first to get a fifth-generation mobile network, aka 5G.
SK Telecom, the country's most widely used mobile carrier, on Thursday declared it would be the world's first operator of a 5G network as it opened the doors of the 5G Playground, a facility dedicated to researching the nascent service, The Korea Herald reports.
Following 4G LTE, 5G is the next significant update to wireless Internet connectivity. SK reportedly demonstrated speeds of up to 19.1 gigabits per second, nearly 1,000 times faster than the 25 megabits-per-second in which 4G LTE users in South Korea currently luxuriate. That 5G speed would let you download a 2GB movie in fractions of a second.
"SKT will spare no efforts to achieve the world's first commercialisation of the 5G network," CTO Choi Jin-sung said at the opening of the Playground.
At the opening of the centre, which was launched in conjunction with tech giants Samsung Electronics, Nokia, Intel, telco infrastructure provider Ericsson and electronics firm Rhode & Schwartz, SK Telecom said it would have a test network running by 2017. That's ahead of a globally standardised, commercially usable network by 2020.
But SK Telecom isn't the only telco with its eyes on 5G. If it wants to be the world's first 5G operator it'll have to beat Verizon Wireless in the US, which is on track to begin testing its fifth-gen network next year and have some degree of commercial availability in 2017. Australia's Telstra has pegged 2020 as the year for the commercial launch of its 5G network.
According to Verizon, 5G will offer a connection speed 30 to 50 times faster than the US' current 4G LTE network. Meanwhile, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg in January said he expected 5G to power a proliferation of Internet of Things gadgets, items that make use of Internet connectivity, due to the network's ability to interact uniquely with different types of devices.