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RootMetrics: South Korea winning the global 5G race, with availability and speeds that are far, far ahead of others

RootMetrics: South Korea winning the global 5G race, with availability and speeds that are far, far ahead of others

June 23, 2021



NEW YORK, NY (June 23, 2021) – RootMetrics, the global standard for independent mobile performance benchmarking and analytics, today released results from testing mobile network performance in four cities across South Korea. The new report shows that South Korean operators KT, LG U+, and SK Telecom have continued to grow their 5G footprints and are delivering speeds that consumers in other countries can only imagine.

South Korean 5G (still) leading the global 5G race

The two key components of a consumer’s 5G experience are availability and speed. RootMetrics has tested performance in South Korea since 2019 and the South Korean operators have consistently outperformed what the company finds in other countries across the globe. The most recent results show that trend continuing, with 5G availability nearing 100% in some areas and median download speeds that far eclipse top performance from leading operators in the US, UK, and Switzerland.

To assure results reflect the typical consumer experience, testing utilized a regional AWS server located within South Korea. To minimize the impact of significant outlier results (i.e., a single excessively fast or slow test result) and provide insight into the most likely experience, RootMetrics always reports on median speed and latency results.

5G availability in Seoul providing users near ubiquitous access to 5G, far outpacing what users find in New York City, London, or Zurich

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Median download speeds by city

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“5G is becoming the foundation of our connected communities and as important a piece of infrastructure as is water, roads, or electricity. We’ve tested performance in South Korea over many years. Our results continue to show that South Korean operators have taken a leading position in delivering the type of 5G experience that can help fuel new consumer and business activity,” said Patrick Linder, Chief Marketing Officer at RootMetrics. “As 5G continues to expand across the globe, the implementation strategies and performance seen in South Korea have set an impressive standard for other operators to follow.”

Key findings also show continued and impressive 5G improvements in Seoul

To provide a comparative view of performance, RootMetrics analyzed results from testing in Seoul in the Fall of 2020 to the most recent results collected in May of 2021. Results show that consumers in the city are now able to find 5G, regardless of operator, over 90% of the time.

5G availability on the rise in Seoul

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Other key takeaways from Seoul

  • Widespread 5G availability means consumers in Seoul are able to experience world-class speeds nearly every time they use their mobile devices.
  • Median download speeds across all technology types (5G, LTE, and “mixed mode,” when the user switches between 5G and LTE) offer a look at the most typical consumer experience. With such a high proportion of 5G in Seoul, overall median download speeds were incredibly fast, ranging from KT’s 461.2Mbps to SK Telecom’s 622.0Mbps to LG U+’s 640.7Mbps.
  • All three operators delivered strong 5G performance during both indoor and outdoor testing, providing consumers with a seamless experience as they move throughout their daily mobile activities.
  • Latency for all three operators also impressed, ranging from the 25.5ms recorded on the LG U+ network to 34.5ms from KT, and 42.0ms from SK Telecom. Lower latencies mean smoother and better experiences during activities like mobile cloud gaming.

For complete results across all four cities tested, visit the full RootMetrics report.

RootMetrics testing in South Korea: facts and figures

RootMetrics tested 5G performance on the networks of KT, LG U+, and SK Telecom in four cities across South Korea from 6 May – 17 May 2021. Performance was measured indoors and outdoors in each city where and when people most often use their smartphones: tourist areas, business districts, and other areas at times of peak mobile usage. All tests were performed while walking and driving and were designed to represent the end-user’s real-world 5G experience.

Testing facts and figures:

  • Cities tested: Busan, Gwangju, Incheon, Seoul
  • Smartphone used for testing in each city: Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
  • Total tests conducted: 48,526
  • Total kilometers driven: 2,329
  • Total indoor locations tested:108

How RootMetrics tests

RootMetrics by IHS Markit combines scientific data with real-world mobile performance insights to provide consumers with an independent view of each network’s performance where they live, work, and play. RootMetrics measured South Korean 5G performance indoors and outdoors where people most often use their smartphones in and around Busan, Gwangju, Incheon, and Seoul: tourist areas, business districts and other high-population areas during hours of peak mobile usage. To assure results reflect the typical consumer experience, testing utilized a regional AWS server located within South Korea. To minimize the impact of significant outlier results (i.e., a single excessively fast or slow test result) and provide insight into the most likely experience, RootMetrics always reports on median. To learn more about RootMetrics testing, visit the methodology page of the RootMetrics website.  

About RootMetrics (www.RootMetrics.com)

RootMetrics measures mobile network performance and offers insights into the consumer mobile experience. RootMetrics provides data on mobile network performance to help the networks improve and give consumers an end-to-end look at the real-world mobile experience at locations across the world. To ensure that RootMetrics results reflect a user’s real-world mobile experience, testing is conducted based on where, when, and how consumers use their smartphones most often.

About IHS Markit (www.ihsmarkit.com)

IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics, and solutions to customers in business, finance, and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world's leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

IHS Markit and RootMetrics are registered trademarks of IHS Markit Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners © 2021 IHS Markit Ltd. All rights reserved.

News Media Contact:

Dave Andersen
PR Director  
Phone: 206 739 6334
david.andersen@ihsmarkit.com

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