Mobile carriers in South Korea & U.S. scramble to launch 5G services

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The carriers had initially planned to start their 5G services on Friday, but moved up to stay ahead of Verizon.

The carriers' 5G networks went 11 p.m. Wednesdayhours until US carrier Verizon turned on its 5G network in some areas of Minneapolis and Chicago a week before schedule. Samsung has said that the Galaxy S10 5G smartphone will offer 20 times faster speed than the current mobile phones as it began selling its 5G handsets along with the launch of 5G services in South Korea.

But according to Yonhap, the South Korean launches came two hours earlier, at 11pm (10pm Singapore time) on Wednesday. Three mobile carriers, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus held launch events across Seoul in South Korea, for the Galaxy S10 5G.

Around 30 customers were invited to the event, which was also attended by figure skating queen and SKT 5G ambassador Kim Yuna. The service was launched ahead of the United States, Japan and China.

"For the first time ever, customers can access a commercial 5G network with the world's first commercially available 5G-enabled smartphone", Verizon said in a statement.

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Korea could have lost the race to become the first country to commercialize 5G telecommunications in the world.

Countries are racing to build 5G networks that will be crucial for future tech such as driverless cars.

The company showcased virtual reality devices, a pair of augmented reality glasses called Magic Leap One and the hologram-combined artificial intelligence platform NUGU at the shop, all of which will be enabled by its 5G network. Sometimes, it can also offer 100 times faster speeds. Park Tae-wan, a ministry official, said a "world's first" reference could possibly help the mobile industry market's know-how.

LG Electronics plans to release its 5G smartphone in South Korea later this month.

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