Korean telcos ramp up 5G competition with LG V50 ThinQ launch

As the race for 5G supremacy heats up, SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus have each offered subsidies for customers to buy the LG V50 ThinQ 5G.

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South Korean telcos are upping their marketing campaigns for 5G subscribers with the launch of LG V50 ThinQ 5G on Friday.

SK Telecom is offering up to 773,000 won in subsidies, KT is offering 600,000 won, and LG Uplus 570,000 won for those who purchase the LG V50 ThinQ 5G..

The subsidies offered are considerably higher than those given during the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G launch in early April. For the Samsung 5G smartphone, SK Telecom offered 546,000 won in subsidies, while KT offered 215,000 won, and LG Uplus 475,000 won.

The V50 ThinQ 5G will retail at 1,199 million won, compared to Galaxy S10 5G's 1,397 million, meaning that LG's offering will be a considerably cheaper option for customers who are looking to get on the 5G train.

The generous subsidies reflect the anxiety of telcos and their unwillingness to lose current market share. Prior to these subsidy announcements, KT announced it would offer unlimited data plans for 5G at the start of April, resulting in the telco securing the most 5G subscribers during the first month of the 5G network being commercialised.

South Korea secured 260,000 5G subscribers in April, with KT leading the pack by having 100,000 of them. Since then, SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho has publicly stated the company has no intentions of losing its 50% market share.

Third-place LG Uplus, meanwhile, has received backlash for poor service qualities outside of the capital Seoul and has vowed to expand coverage with freshly supplied Samsung equipment.

The South Korean telcos last year had agreed to launch their 5G networks at the same time to avoid excessive competition between them. This fragile agreement to not excessively compete however, is likely to break down during the second half of the year as more flagship smartphones are released.

The winner of the escalating 5G race will be LG Electronics, which has been in the red for years and continually lost market share in smartphones in its home country.

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