Litigation Looms for Unhappy Smartphone Users in South Korea

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Next-generation smartphone users in Seoul (South Korea) are taking legal action against the country’s three major carriers, SK Telecom Co., KT Corp., and LG Uplus Corp., reported Yonhap News Agency. Around 1,000 users have expressed interest in partaking in a lawsuit seeking to collect at least $890 per user in reparations for the poor quality and spotty service of the country’s 5G networks. 

Kim Jin-wook, a lawyer at law firm Joowon, which is spearheading the legal action, said that the three telecoms’ “5G network quality fell short of expectations, despite their costlier pay plans. Considering that monthly 5G plans are around 50,000 won ($45) more expensive than 4G LTE plans, we expect around 1 million won ($890) in compensation for users subscribed to two-year plans,” said Kim.

Kim argues that 5G network quality is not a discernible improvement from previous 4G LTE networks and has drawbacks, such as limited availability, reported Yonhap News Agency. The 5G network was touted as having download speeds 20-times faster than 4G, but the speed has only increased by four times in reality. 

To date, the three operators have deployed 166,250 5G base stations, just 19 percent of the number of 4G base stations around the country, according to Opensignal. 5G coverage is concentrated in urban environments, like Seoul, with telecoms aiming for nationwide coverage in 2022.

Kim plans to file the lawsuit in May after gathering more participants, though 5G adoption has been lower than expected. As of January, the country had 12.87 million 5G subscriptions, accounting for 18.2 percent of total network users, according to ICT ministry data. The lawsuit comes amid years of user complaints of slower than advertised 5G speeds and low quality, reported Yonhap News Agency.

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