This composite image provided by Yonhap New TV shows network services powered by 5G technology.(Yonhap)
South Korean telecom operators have so far installed less than 200 base stations that support millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G, data showed Friday, highlighting the lack of progress to commercialize the technology that unlocks the fastest speeds on the network.
Major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- have installed just 161 mmWave 5G base stations as of the end of August, lagging far behind the government requirement of over 45,000 base stations by the end of this year, according to the data provided by independent lawmaker Yang Jung-suk.
South Korea's 5G networks are currently deployed on the mid-band spectrum, leading to relatively slower speeds than on the high-band mmWave spectrum, which can theoretically be up to 20 times faster than 4G LTE.
The three carriers are required to install a total of 45,125 mmWave 5G base stations by the end of this year in return for receiving mmWave spectrum back in 2018.
The ICT ministry is set to conduct a review of the installed base stations next year.
Carriers, however, have been reluctant to invest in mmWave 5G, considering disappointing user migration to 5G networks amid a lack of services that can take advantage of the speeds that even current 5G networks offer.
The vast majority -- 70 percent -- of the country's mobile users were still on 4G networks as of July, compared with around 24 percent on 5G.
Carriers have turned to business applications to make use of mmWave 5G, such as smart factories and automated robots, but they largely remain under testing. (Yonhap)