South Korea will spend $1.5 billion to build a trial 5G network in 2017 and will have 300 mbps download speed by the end of this year with 3band LTE-Advanced service

South Korea’s government plans to invest $1.5 billion in a national 5G wireless network – reportedly 1,000 times faster than any current mobile network speed in the world.

South Korea thinks it is time to take preemptive action to develop 5G,” the science ministry said. “Countries in Europe, China and the US are making aggressive efforts to develop 5G technology … and we believe there will be fierce competition in this market in a few years.”

A trial network is due to be rolled out in 2017, while a complete commercial rollout is expected by 2020.

South Korea’s mobile carriers SK Telecom Co. and LG Uplus Corp. said Monday they plan to deploy a network service this year that is four times faster than the current Long Term Evolution service.

SK Telecom, South Korea’s No. 1 player, said it has successfully developed the upgraded service, dubbed the 3band LTE-Advanced service, by combining a 20MHz bandwidth and two 10MHz bandwidths.

LG Uplus Corp. also announced Monday it plans to roll out the 3band LTE-A service in 2014 of the same speed, reflecting the heightening technology battle among industry players.

South Korea presently has the highest Internet penetration rate at 82.7 percent, while 78.5 percent of the nation’s population are on smartphones. In the 18-24 year old age group, smartphone penetration is close to full saturation at 97.7 percent.

The new services are based on carrier aggregation technology, which bundles more than two frequency bands to increase bandwidth and offers a download speed of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps), roughly four times faster than 75 Mbps on the existing LTE network, the companies said.

It is also faster than 150 Mbps and 225 Mbps for the LTE-A service and the wider-bandwidth LTE-A, respectively.

The 3band LTE-A service will enable mobile devices to download a 800-megabyte movie in 22 seconds, faster than the 1 minute and 25 seconds using the existing LTE services, and 43 seconds with the LTE-A services.

SK Telecom added it will showcase a 3band LTE-A service combining three 20MHz bandwidths that has a download speed of 450 Mbps at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next month.

They will also go to 4-band and 5-band aggregation in the future. In reality, speeds will probably be smaller due to various limitations, but still way faster than anything in North America.

To benefit from these speeds, users will need a compatible smartphone. The current Snapdragon 800 SoC from Qualcomm only supports 2-band carrier aggregation, which enables speeds of up to 150Mpbs. The Snapdragon 805, expected in the market in the second half of the year, will enable 3-band carrier aggregation.

The country hopes to rake in around $300 billion between 2020 and 2026 from sales of 5G-related devices at home and abroad, and generate a telecom market sized at around $63 billion in the country.

Chinese company Huawei announcing last November that it was also targeting a 5G rollout by 2020, with a minimum investment of $600 million to develop the technology.

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