Telecom giant Samsung Electronics on Friday released the Galaxy S10 5G, the world’s first available smartphone with built-in fifth-generation communications, as South Korea seeks to build a lead in the transformative technology.
On Wednesday the South became the first country to launch nationwide 5G services, with three superfast networks going live offering data speeds that allow users to download entire movies in less than a second.
Hours later US giant Verizon began commercial services in Chicago and Minneapolis, after rival AT&T made a 5G-based system available to selected users in parts of 12 cities in December.
South Korea’s three mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus – held launch events across Seoul for the Galaxy S10 5G, whose base version costs 1.39 million won ($1,200). Interactive virtual-reality displays and robot demonstrations were on show to tout the capabilities of the latest iteration of mobile internet speed, and new users were excited about the possibilities, especially live streaming of sports games and university lectures.
“I watch a lot of videos often, movies and lectures,” said buyer Shim Ji-hye, 38. “I hope faster speeds will help me manage my time better.”
With 5G, said researcher Lee Sang-yoon, VR content “can be enjoyed in real time with no delay… I’ll be able to enjoy it in better resolution and speed”.
By Friday afternoon, 15,000 buyers had subscribed to the LG UPlus 5G service, and more than 10,000 to KT’s offer, the carriers said. Figures were not immediately available from SK Telecom, the market leader.
Before Friday’s roll-out of the Samsung phone, the 5G service had been restricted to a handful of specially selected users in South Korea. Commercialising 5G gives South Korea the chance to build around the technology, which is crucial for the future development of devices such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.
It is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.
Meanwhile Samsung Electronics warned on Friday of a more than 60 per cent plunge in first-quarter operating profits in the face of weakening markets.
Operating profits for January to March would be “approximately 6.2 trillion won”, the firm said in a statement, down 60.4 per cent on-year. Sales were about 52 trillion won, it said, marking a 14 per cent drop.
The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy, and it is crucial to South Korea’s economic health. – AFP: see more