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Increase of 5G users in Korea slows down


South Korean mobile carriers are struggling to entice more customers for 5G services amid the new coronavirus outbreak, according to latest data Tuesday.

In January, the number of 5G network users here increased by 290,000 to 4.95 million in a month, the lowest amount of increase since local mobile carriers launched 5G services in April last year, as per ICT Ministry data.

Since April last year, local telecom firms saw the number of new 5G network subscribers increase by more than half a million every month. In August alone, about 870,000 people started using the next-generation services.

The rate of increase, however, started to decrease as local mobile carriers began providing lower subsidies for 5G-enabled devices.

The number of new 5G network subscribers in September was around 670,000, and 520,000 in October. In November, 370,000 people newly subscribed to 5G network, followed by 310,000 in December.

The industry had expected the figure to bounce back once Samsung Electronics’ launched of its new flagship smartphone Galaxy S20. However, sales were sluggish amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of Galaxy S20 units sold when it was launched on Feb. 28 was around 70,000, half that of its previous model Galaxy S10 on the first day -- 140,000 units.

In February this year, the consumer composite sentiment index was 96.9, down 7.3 points from a month ago, according to the data compiled by the Bank of Korea.

The consumer index is expected to drop further next month as it will include data after the confirmed COVID-19 cases began skyrocketing here on Feb. 20.

By Shim Woo-hyun (