Quick on the uptake: 41% of Korea’s population are LTE subscribers

Quick on the uptake: 41% of Korea’s population are LTE subscribers

There’s further evidence that South Korea is the world’s most wired country today after a government report found that 41 percent of the country’s mobile phone owners use LTE services.

Yonhap News reports that data from the Science, Creative and Future Planning ministry estimates that there were 22.9 million LTE subscribers as of the end of June,  up 2.19 million on May’s tally. That growth is all the more impressive given that Korea’s first LTE network was deployed just two years ago.

The figure is another piece of evidence showing the development of Internet access and wireless technology there.

An Akamai report released this week ranked Korea’s Internet as the fastest on the planet, with an average speed of 14.2 Mpbs, ahead of Japan (11.7 Mpbs) and Hong Kong (10.9 Mbps). Those speeds are for fixed Internet, of course, but Korea is also notable for being the only country in the world where LTE-Advanced mobile services are live to consumers.

The country actually has two deployments of the zippier LTE network, which is said to offer speeds of up to 150 Mbps. SK Telecom rolled out the first LTE-Advanced service earlier this month, before smaller rival LG Uplus followed up with its answer to that just last week.

These LTE-Advanced networks are not included in the stats released today, but they might soon account for a decent-sized user base. SK Telecom’s service passed 150,000 subscribers just two weeks after launch, illustrating interest in the service and the benefits of a freeze on upgrade pricing.

Compatible devices appear to be the biggest roadblock right now, though Samsung marked the SK LTE-Advanced launch by releasing its Galaxy S4 LTE-A handset which runs on the service.

LG Electronics and Pantech — a domestic handset maker that includes Samsung among its financial backers — are reportedly planning to release smartphones for the LTE-A networks soon.

US carriers have also been keen to push ahead with their LTE-A plans, with T-Mobile reportedly saying it will roll out LTE-A features later this year and Verizon talking about next-generation speeds. For now, it seems Korea is the place for speed — both wired and wireless.

Headline image via Thinkstock

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