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(LEAD) 2G network services set to turn off 25 yrs after ushering in mobile era in S. Korea

Politics 17:28 June 12, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's 2G mobile network will be gradually shut down 25 years after bringing in the mobile era in the country as the top mobile operator got the nod for the termination of the service on Friday.

SK Telecom Co. was allowed by the ICT ministry to discontinue its 2G cellular network with conditions for consumer protection. There were some 900,000 phones running on 2G services in the country as of April this year, according to the ministry.

The termination of SK Telecom's 2G mobile services will begin from July 6. Some 390,000 mobile phone users subscribed to SK Telecom's 2G services as of April.

KT Corp., the second-largest mobile operator here, ended its 2G services in 2011. LG Uplus, the country's smallest mobile service provider, is likely to follow the lead of its two bigger rivals.

(LEAD) 2G network services set to turn off 25 yrs after ushering in mobile era in S. Korea - 1

In 1996, the country launched 2G mobile services based on the world's first commercial code division multiple access (CDMA) network built by SK Telecom, helping facilitate the country's advance in the telecom segment.

The country started provided mobile email services in 1999, followed by video on demand and multimedia connectivity in 2001.

With more services, the number of 2G subscribers in the country topped 900,000 in March 1997 and ballooned to 20 million in 2006, even after the country started 3G services in 2003.

The upcoming closure of 2G services came as local mobile operators have been ramping up the drive to promote 5G services.

As of May, the number of 5G mobile network users was estimated to have reached around 7 million, just 14 months after the country adopted the ultra-high-speed telecom service.

The number is roughly equal to 10 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions in the country.

South Korea rolled out the world's first commercial 5G network on April 3, 2019.


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