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After receiving government approval, three of South Korea’s largest mobile carriers — SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus — have introduced their respective 5G data plans.
The South Korean government’s plan approvals, which is a requirement for local mobile carriers, comes just as the country is set to launch its consumer 5G network on April 5. Consumers will also be able to buy Samsung’s first 5G device, the Galaxy S10 5G, that day.
At a time when 5G is making headlines in the country, carriers are likely hoping that their plans will be enticing enough to get current users to upgrade and attractive enough to capture rivals’ customers. However, while each of the firms offers tiered plans at different prices and data limits, KT is the only carrier to offer unlimited 5G data plans.
Why it matters: KT’s strategic use of unlimited plans gives it a significant advantage over its rivals just as 5G networks and devices begin to roll out.
- Unlimited data plans are essential for 5G. Even using a rival carrier’s most robust 5G data plan, a consumer can still reach their data cap in as little as 25 minutes with peak data rates. This leaves SK Telecom’s and LG Uplus’ plans almost unusable for consumers.
- KT can use its unlimited 5G plans to convince its customers to upgrade plans.The carrier’s simplest and cheapest unlimited 5G plan — The Super Plan Basic — is a better deal than its 4G LTE equivalent. The Super Plan Basic will cost 80,000 won ($70), which is 9,000 won ($8) cheaper than its comparable 4G LTE plan.
The bigger picture: KT’s efforts to capture an early lead in the 5G race with its aggressive 5G pricing will benefit all consumers in the long term.
SK Telecom’s and LG Uplus’ 5G data plans won’t be attractive to consumers who want to use 5G for extended periods, and likely don’t offer enough incentive to upgrade to 5G. As such, these telecoms will be forced to quickly improve their plans or risk losing out to KT — losses will come in the form of market share and consumer perception of 5G offerings.
This could ultimately ignite a fierce race to offer customers the most competitive data plans and access to the latest 5G-compatible devices.
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