What happened: South Korea is on pace to commercially deploy the world’s first 5G services this week ahead of companies like Verizon in the US, which plans to start launching its new networks on Apr. 11. South Korean service providers are looking to start cashing in after spending billions on marketing campaigns for the new technology. SK Telecom, the nation’s largest operator, is expecting to offer new cellular plans for up to 1 million customers by the end of the year, many of whom will be using Samsung’s industry-first 5G-enabled Galaxy S10.
Why it’s important: The news comes on the heels of a report issued by research firm Analysys Mason ranking South Korea behind China and the US as leaders in global 5G “readiness.” As it makes headway, South Korea will look to kickstart sluggish economic growth and spark innovation in its tech industries. The nation’s telecom companies have largely managed to stay out of the US-China Huawei dispute, too, as two out of the three largest do not use Huawei gear for 5G infrastructure.