The Korea Herald

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SK Telecom reaches 500,000 4G subscribers

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 14, 2011 - 20:28

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SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile carrier, said Wednesday that the number of fourth-generation wireless subscribers has topped 500,000 in about five months.

In July, SK Telecom kicked off the long-term evolution network in Seoul, offering faster wireless data than the third-generation network for data-hungry smartphone users. The carrier has since launched 10 new mobile devices compatible with the new high-speed data service.

The mobile operator said the growth rate of the 4G service is much faster than when the 3G network was first introduced in Korea, which took 14 months to reach the 500,000 milestone.

Around 35 percent of the new smartphone users at SK Telecom choose smartphones that are compatible with the LTE service, even though SK Telecom does not offer an unlimited wireless data plan on the LTE network.

Samsung Electronics Co. released the Galaxy series of mobile devices that run on SK Telecom’s high-speed networks, trying to move ahead of Apple Inc., which launched the iPhone 4S that cannot run on the 4G network.

Because the LTE service is yet to be available nationwide, the so-called LTE smartphones in South Korea download wireless data through the 3G wireless networks outside Seoul.

LG Uplus Corp., South Korea’s smallest wireless carrier, also released the LTE service in July in major Korean cities, leaving KT Corp. as the only carrier without the high-speed 4G service.

SK Telecom plans to expand the LTE service to 84 cities in South Korea by April. (Yonhap News)