South Korean telcos see profit jump in 2020 thanks to 5G and remote services

SK Telecom and LG Uplus saw their operating income jump over 20% in 2020 thanks to a growth in demand for 5G and remote services.

South Korean telcos, SK Telecom and LG Uplus, saw their earnings in 2020 jump significantly thanks to an uptick in 5G subscriptions and higher demand for remote services.

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SK Telecom, the country's largest carrier, said on Wednesday it posted sales of 18.62 trillion won and operating income of 1.35 trillion won for 2020. These were increases of 5% and 21.8%, respectively, from 2019.

Wireless services contributed 1.02 trillion won in operating income, which was an increase of 7.5% from the previous year. The 7.5% improvement was primarily due to the continued growth of its 5G subscriber base, the carrier said.

Meanwhile, media services recorded 230.9 billion won in operating income, a surge of 59.2% from 2019. Its online commerce and security services also saw high sales increases during the year, SK Telecom said.  

In terms of the telco's user base, SK Telecom said it has amassed 5.48 million 5G users as of the end of 2020. The company expects to secure 9 million 5G users in total by the end of 2021.

LG Uplus, the country's third largest carrier, reported sales of 13.41 trillion won and operating income of 886.2 billion won for 2020. This was an increase of 8.4% and 29%, respectively, from the previous year.

Like SK Telecom, LG Uplus said there was a high demand for its 5G mobile and remote services throughout the year.

The carrier counted 2.75 million 5G users as of the end of 2020, more than double that of 2019, it said. Sales of its IPTV service and high-speed internet, combined, grew by almost 10% from the previous year, it added.

For 2021, LG Uplus said it plans to offer 5G at a lower price point than before. It also wants to strengthen online sales channel going forward.

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, South Korea, in total, has 10.93 million 5G subscribers as of November 2020.

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