LG Uplus customers in South Korea will soon be able to connect to one of over 10,000 live 5G cell sites boasting speeds in the gigabits per second, thanks to Huawei. The network is currently ready to go live in various markets around South Korea, and will reportedly offer such speed and capacity that most customers should actually see real-usage speeds of up to a gigabit per second once Huawei and LG Uplus flip the switch tomorrow. MWC attendees will also get to see the network in action, since Huawei and LG will be demonstrating the same tech at their booth that's used back in South Korea.
The network has performed with aplomb in testing thus far, with tests made to replicate real-world usage. Gangnam's Golden Cluster, for example, routinely sees speeds upwards of 900 megabits per second and well into gigabit territory in tests. Naturally, many of the initial deployment areas are places where a lot of the usage will be commercial. Huawei will be on hand to help with deployment and maintenance of its 5G AAU network technology and associated equipment, including helping enterprise customers get set up, getting small cells outside company buildings, and more.
Adjacent to this launch is the rise of Cloud VR, first shown off back at the end of January by LG Uplus. The technology is exactly what it sounds like, leveraging the power of LG Uplus' 5G network to deliver seamless VR experiences in real-time with no download required beforehand, and most of the heavy processing work done by the carrier's servers. The demo back in January managed to impress users, so mass commercial usage in the near future will probably be more of the same, barring network issues.
It's no accident that Huawei is staging a surprise commercial 5G launch right under Samsung's nose. The two have been locked in a colossal worldwide network technology struggle for years. While a number of key markets like North America have put Huawei under scrutiny or even spurned the company due to security concerns, the world's third-largest smartphone marker hasn't let that break its stride. This is a quadruple slap-in-the-face for Samsung, since it competes fiercely with both LG and Huawei in the smartphone space, and this launch comes less than three months after its own enterprise-facing commercial 5G launch.
If this launch goes well, it will be a serious boon to Huawei on the world stage. No matter what security concerns you may have, there's something to be said for being the first company to have a commercially available, smartphone-facing true 5G network up and running. While other carriers and network technology companies have launched limited 5G, commercial-only solutions, or 4.9G in some areas worldwide, tomorrow will be the first time a perfectly normal carrier customer can walk down the street streaming videos and browsing social media on a real 5G network.
Speaking beyond Huawei, tomorrow's launch means the gauntlet has been thrown down and the race is on. Companies that have been biding their time expanding and testing preliminary 5G networks are probably going to start flipping the switch en masse in the near future. Whether that leads to a smooth 5G transition or a global networking disaster, only time will tell.