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A case of putting the 'cart before the horse'?

South Korea’s 5G mobile network, the world’s first and largest, is coming under intense criticism from customers.

Launched in April and with more than 1.6m people using the new services by the end of June, South Korea accounts for almost 80 per cent of global 5G users, according to GSMA, the industry body.

Demand for 5G was boosted by a combination of aggressive marketing and subsidies, but now consumers have been complaining about the promised internet speeds - up to 100 times faster than 4G - not being met, weak signals and poor connectivity.

Many have moved from 5G to LTE services as a consequence, while a growing number of consumers have expressed frustration at the cost of 5G phones and the lack of specialised content.

The problem appears to be that there are not enough base stations for nationwide coverage. In fact, while 63,000 5G base stations have been deployed that equates to just 7 per cent of the total deployed for 4G.

Perhaps the rest of the world should take note because while South Korean operators have already spent around $2.6bn this year alone on 5G technology, according to government estimates, it would appear they are going to have to expand their infrastructure investment significantly if they want to solve these problems.

Neil Tyler

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