South Korea fines 3 telecoms $25.4 mn for false claims on 5G speed

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC), South Korea’s antitrust regulator, announced that it would impose a combined fine of 33.6 billion won ($25.4 million) on the country’s three mobile carriers for false advertising on the speed of their 5G network services.
5G speed advertisement in KoreaSK Telecom, KT Corp., and LG Uplus were found guilty of exaggerating the performance of their 5G network services in their advertisements, falsely claiming speeds that can only be achieved in specific environments.

The three mobile carriers have disseminated false or exaggerated information about the speed of their 5G services, deceiving consumers into believing they can experience speeds of 20Gbps, which is only theoretically possible in 5G technology, FTC said.

The FTC explained that although the advertisements implied that users could actually enjoy maximum speeds, the mobile carriers had failed to substantiate these claims.

SK Telecom and KT claimed it would take only 0.8 seconds to download a 2GB movie file using the 5G network. LG Uplus claimed it would take just one second to transmit a 2.5GB file.

The three mobile carriers positioned themselves as providers of the fastest 5G service in South Korea without presenting verified test results.

At the time the advertisements, the average download speed of the three carriers’ 5G services ranged between 656 and 801Mbps, representing only 3 to 4 percent of 20Gbps, the regulator said.

SK Telecom has 39.4 percent share in the South Korean mobile service market, followed by KT with 22.4 percent and LG Uplus with 20.8 percent.

The FTC plans to slap fines of 16.8 billion won on SK Telecom, followed by KT with 13.9 billion won and LG Uplus with 2.8 billion won.

SK Telecom expressed regret over the FTC’s ruling. KT and LG Uplus released statements stating that they would review the ruling once they receive the relevant documents from the FTC.