The 5G race is apparently over, so what about pricing?

via Flickr © PhotoAtelier (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © PhotoAtelier (CC BY 2.0)

  • KT and Verizon have both revealed their 5G pricing
  • 5G is all about unlimited, but the old revenue-enhancing complexity is still in there
  • And data usage is still something to be kept in check

Racing to 5G is all very well, but any potential user (or observer) will now be wondering how differently from 4G the resulting services are going to be structured and how much they’ll cost? After all, 5G changes everything, right?

Well maybe not quite everything, at least not straight away.

Both KT and Verizon have outlined their pricing and some of their incentives (KT is even launching a 5G theme park - more on that later).

The first thing to said is that, as expected, there’s a heavy emphasis on ‘unlimited’ with these two sets of 5G offerings, but of course all unlimiteds are not the same and cunning ways to tier them have been found.

If you thought the arrival of ‘unlimited’ would signal the end of complex, obfuscatory packages because, well, unlimited means unlimited, doesn’t it? You were wrong, at least as far as Verizon is concerned. KT’s is fairly straightforward though.

KT’s 5G offerings

KT has unveiled three unlimited 5G plans as its B2C offering, plus a conventional 5G Slim plan offering 8GB for US$48.50.

It claims it’s the first provider in South Korea to offer unlimited without a speed cap to rein things in.

  • 5G Super Plan Basic comprises unlimited smartphone data plus 5GB of tethering for around $70

  • 5G Super Plan Special comprises unlimited smartphone data plus 50GB of tethering for around $88

  • 5G Super Plan Premium offers unlimited smartphone data, 100GB of tethering for around $115

Clearly the thing that worries KT most is that its unlimited offerings will allow smartphones to feed video to TVs and other devices, subverting the wired broadband market, hence the tethering add-on.

It also offers a clutch of goodies including eight “super power” services in three categories of killer content, namely communications, games and media. It’s planning the world’s first 5G theme park on the outskirts of Seoul where it already operates VRIGHT, a virtual reality theme park there.

KT claims it’s operating mobile edge computing (MEC) telecom centers for very low latency in eight major cities, including one on Jeju Island, the country’s southernmost territory. Being geographically small has its advantages.

However, KT is still ‘rolling out’ 5G in Korea so although service has been ‘launched’ and eight cities promised this year, it’s uncertain as to how swiftly and how completely all this will come to pass. Being in Korea, though, it does have handsets available

Verizon’s 5G offerings

The same can’t really be said of Verizon’s 5G which, at this point in time, requires a $350 attachment for the Moto Z3 phone to pick up 5G and then only if the Moto Z3 concerned is actually in parts of Chicago or Minneapolis.

But it has made its 5G pricing info available. It’s offering three tiers of unlimited, comprising Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited and Beyond Belief (sorry, Above Unlimited).

Verizon applies the data consumption brakes by tiering the speeds available for hotspot and then when congestion strikes, choking you more the less you pay (harsh but fair).

  • Go Unlimited: it chokes hotspot usage down to 600kbit/s and limits video playback to DVD standard; will also reduce your speed if the network is congested. Cost $75 per month.

  • Beyond Unlimited: offers 15GB of hotspot at 4G LTE speeds but offers streaming video at HD standard; only reduces your speed to LTE levels after you’ve used 22GB that month. Cost $85 per month.

  • Above Unlimited: offers 20GB hotspot at LTE speeds with video at HD quality, but only reduces your speed to LTE levels after you’ve used 75GB that month. Also includes cloud storage.Cost $95 per month.

All the Verizon plans offer unlimited talk and text in the US.

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