2007 Asia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in North and South Korea

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in telecommunications and digital media markets in South Korea. Subjects covered include:-

  • Key Statistics;
  • Market and Industry Overviews;
  • Regulatory Environment;
  • Major Players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, LAN, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media.

Executive Summary

North Korea

The development of the telecommunications sector in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is seriously impeded by the country’s parlous economic state and government repression of communication. It has been a difficult journey indeed for telecommunications in the DPRK. Though mobile services finally began in the capital Pyongyang in 2002 on a limited scale, North Korean citizens were banned from using mobile phones as of May 2004.

North Korea’s obsession with secrecy has made it extremely difficult to get a clear picture of the sector. (In the absence of official statistics, we have made estimates in the report where we can.) The announcement in February 2005 that the DPRK had some form of nuclear weapons was likely to further prevent the flow of useful telecom technologies and expertise into the country, as well as ensuring that the country remained isolated from the rest of the world. Recent talks to resolve this situation involving nuclear arms development had reached a level of agreement, but there remained much work to be done before serious and significant engagement with North Korea can take place.

For the country overview see chapter 1, page 1.


South Korea

Supported by a visionary government, a creative and energetic private sector and a technology savvy population, South Korea has one of the most interesting and innovative telecommunications markets in the world. The Republic of Korea has proven itself a leader in many facets of the telecommunications industry. After years of progress, the country continues to push ahead. According to a report by the International Telecommunication Union in early 2007, Korea had topped the global list of countries in the ITU’s Digital Opportunity Index for the second consecutive year, confirming its status as an IT and telecoms powerhouse. For more information, see chapter 2.2.1, page 17.

South Korea has the highest number of broadband connections per capita in the world. By early 2007, broadband subscriber penetration was running at 30% of the population; or, put another way, 90% of all households had broadband access as the broadband market in country was reaching near saturation. The much anticipated launch of WiBro services (South Korea’s locally developed version of WiMAX) in 2006 certainly did not meet expectations, despite substantial investment and effort by the service providers. The general feeling was that to launch such a service while a choice of suitable handsets was not available was a premature move.

The South Korean mobile market, which continues to look like it has reached a point of saturation, again found a way to grow by a further 5% (in subscribers and revenue) in 2006 and this growth pattern was continuing into 2007. Mobile penetration was around 85% in early 2007, the majority of services being new generation. Not surprisingly, the country continued to be considered a leader in Third Generation (3G) mobile technology. WCDMA, the second 3G standard to enter the South Korean market after CMDA2000, became commercially available in December 2003, though the service had failed to attract a significant number of subscribers. There was increasing interest in the task of upgrading the 3G networks using HSDPA technology, sometimes described in the industry as 3.5G. Both SK Telecom and KTF launched their HSDPA services in 2006. This seems to be the new service offering the market had been waiting for. It effectively did what WiBro was meant to do. With the launch of HSDPA 3G services by SK Telecom and KTF, the mobile market was given a significant boost. By June 2007, there were 1.6 million customers on the upgraded WCDMA networks. For more information, see chapter 2.8.1, page 94.

Satellite-based Digital Media Broadcasting (S-DMB) was moving in a positive direction coming into 2007. TU-Media, a subsidiary of SK Telecom, claimed to have signed up 950,000 S-DMB subscribers by end-2006. In other words, the subscriber base has increased by about 100% in 2006. Even more importantly, the operator reported that the average TV viewing time per subscriber was running at 62 minutes per day. This was a much higher usage rate than in other markets.

For the country overview see chapter 2, page 16.

Key Highlights

  • South Korea’s mobile market continues to expand both in subscribers and revenue. By early 2007, there were 41 million subscribers (penetration 85%) and the annual growth was around 5%.
  • The launch of HSDPA 3G services by SK Telecom and KTF has provided a significant boost to the mobile market. For more information, see chapter 2.8.8.4.4.1, page 105.
  • By June 2007 there were 1.6 million customers on the upgraded WCDMA networks, this segment of the market having been revitalised with the higher speeds on offer.
  • South Korea has also seen increased ARPU in the mobile sector as the operators promote value-added services and customers respond enthusiastically.
  • In 2006, for example, mobile market leader SK Telecom had increased its blended ARPU by 13% to US$49.3 per month by year-end.
  • Total revenues in the mobile sector topped US$20 billion in 2006, up by around 18% on the previous year; the trend was continuing into 2007.
  • The launch of WiBro services (South Korea’s locally developed version of WiMAX) in 2006 has not met expectations, despite substantial investment and effort by the service providers.
  • By early 2007, there were only a handful of WiBro subscribers. The consensus was that this market would not move much until more appropriate handsets are available. For more information, see chapter 2.6.2.5.8.4, page 74.
  • In early 2007 the government was preparing legislation to cover IPTV; while the government remained committed to the convergence of the telecoms and broadcasting sectors, it was facing stiff opposition from these two competing industries.
  • Satellite-based Digital Media Broadcasting was moving in a positive direction coming into 2007. TU-Media, a subsidiary of SK Telecom, claimed to have signed up 950,000 subscribers by end-2006. In other words, the subscriber base has increased by about 100% in 2006. For more information, see chapter 2.8.6.8.1, page 130.
  • Even more importantly, the TU-Media reported that the average TV viewing time per subscriber was running at 62 minutes per day. This was a much higher usage rate than in other markets.

South Korea - Overall mobile ARPU by operator - December 2006

Operator ARPU/month (US$)
SK Telecom 49
KTF 34
LG Telecom 39
Total market 42
(Source: BuddeComm based on company data)


Key Indicators - South Korea versus North Korea - 2006

Indicator South Korea North Korea
Population 48.3 million 23.1 million
GDP at current prices (e) US$888 billion US$24 million
GDP per capita (e) US$18,400 US$1,000
GDP real growth rate (e) 5% 2%
Infant mortality rate 6.2 per 1000 23.3 per 1000
(Source: BuddeComm)
Note: information for North Korea is estimated

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

Table of Contents

1.NORTH KOREA
1.1Key statistics
1.2Telecommunications market
1.2.1Overview of North Korea’s telecom market
1.2.2Market analysis
1.2.3Relationship with South Korea and the world
1.3Regulatory environment
1.3.1Foreign investment
1.4Fixed network operators
1.4.1Lancelot Holdings
1.4.2Loxley Pacific (Loxpac)
1.4.3KT Corporation
1.4.4Shin Satellite Corp
1.5Telecommunications infrastructure
1.5.1National telecom network
1.5.2International
1.6Internet market
1.6.1Overview
1.6.2Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
1.6.3Websites
1.6.4Email service
1.6.5Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
1.6.6Internet cafes
1.7Mobile communications
1.7.1Overview of North Korea’s mobile market
1.7.2GSM
1.7.3CDMA
1.8Broadcasting
1.8.1Overview
1.8.2TV stations
1.8.3Cable TV
1.8.4Satellite TV
2.SOUTH KOREA
2.1Key statistics
2.2Telecommunications market
2.2.1Overview of South Korea’s telecom market
2.2.2Competitive market
2.2.3Fixed-line and mobile services
2.2.4Telecommunications service markets
2.2.5Market highlights and analysis – 2007
2.2.6Market highlights and analysis – 2006
2.2.7Market highlights and analysis – 2005
2.2.8Market highlights and analysis – 2004
2.2.9Market highlights and analysis – 2003
2.3Regulatory environment
2.3.1Overview
2.3.2Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC)
2.3.3National Internet Development Agency of Korea (NIDA)
2.3.4Korea Communications Commission (KCC)
2.3.5National Computerisation Agency (NCA)
2.3.6Korea Broadcasting Commission (KBC)
2.3.7Master plans for an information society
2.3.8Deregulation
2.3.9Privatisation of Korea Telecom (KT)
2.3.10Licensing
2.3.11Ownership rules
2.3.12Number portability (NP)
2.3.13Highlights – Year 2007
2.3.14Highlights - Year 2006
2.3.15Highlights - Year 2005
2.3.16Highlights - Year 2004
2.3.17Highlights - Year 2003
2.4Major fixed-line network players
2.4.1Overview
2.4.2KT Corp
2.4.3Dacom Corporation
2.4.4Hanaro Telecom
2.4.5Onse Telecom
2.5Telecommunications infrastructure
2.5.1Overview of infrastructure developments in South Korea
2.5.2Next Generation Network (NGN)
2.5.3Major national infrastructure players
2.5.4Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
2.5.5Broadband over Powerline (BPL) / Powerline Communications (PLC)
2.5.6IPv6
2.5.7IP-Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN)
2.5.8Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
2.5.9Apartment LANs
2.5.10National submarine cable infrastructure
2.5.11International submarine cable infrastructure
2.5.12Satellite infrastructure
2.5.13Data communications
2.5.14Regulatory issues
2.6Broadband and Internet market
2.6.1Internet market
2.6.2Broadband market
2.7Convergence
2.7.1Overview of media convergence
2.7.2Triple play models
2.7.3Overview of broadcasting market
2.7.4Broadband TV (IPTV)
2.7.5Digital TV
2.7.6E-services
2.8Mobile communications
2.8.1Overview of South Korea’s mobile market
2.8.2Mobile technologies
2.8.3Major mobile operators
2.8.4Mobile voice services
2.8.5Mobile data services
2.8.6Mobile content and applications
3.GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS
Exhibit 1 – Classification of service providers
Exhibit 2 – Foreign ownership restrictions
Exhibit 3 – Overview of KT subsidiaries
Exhibit 4 – National submarine fibre optic cables, capability, length and launch dates
Exhibit 5 – International submarine fibre optic cables, capability, length and launch dates
Exhibit 6 – Confusion surrounding DSL statistics in South Korea
Exhibit 7 – Estimated B-WLL frequencies, bandwidth and applications
Exhibit 8 – LMCS network operators
Exhibit 9 – Types of telecom convergence
Exhibit 10 – Regional TV broadcasters
Exhibit 11 – Overview of licences awarded to mobile carriers
Exhibit 12 – Wireless Internet services
Exhibit 13 – Comparison of S-DMB and T-DMB application in South Korea


Table 1 – Country statistics North Korea – 2007
Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2005
Table 3 – Mobile statistics – 2005
Table 4 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 5 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1990 - 2005
Table 6 – Country statistics South Korea – 2007
Table 7 – Telecom revenue and investment statistics – 2006
Table 8 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 9 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 10 – Broadband statistics – March 2007
Table 11 – Mobile statistics – March 2007
Table 12 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 13 – KT Corp’s fixed-line subscribers and market share – 2004 - 2006
Table 14 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1991 - 2006
Table 15 – KT Corp’s broadband subscribers and market share – 2005 - 2007
Table 16 – Hanaro broadband subscribers by access type – September 2006
Table 17 – ISDN subscribers – 1994 - 2006
Table 18 – Registered .kr domains – 1996 - 2007
Table 19 – Internet users – 1994 - 2006
Table 20 – Internet subscribers – 1996 - 2007
Table 21 – Broadband Internet subscriber growth and penetration – 1998 - 2007
Table 22 – Broadband subscribers and annual growth by access type – 2006
Table 23 – Broadband subscribers and households - 2006
Table 24 – Broadband Internet subscriber numbers by system – 1998 - 2006
Table 25 – Broadband users by access type (wired and/or wireless) - 2006
Table 26 – Broadband subscribers and market share – major providers – April 2007
Table 27 – Broadband subscribers by access type – March 2007
Table 28 – Cable modem subscribers – 2000 - 2006
Table 29 – Cable modem (HFC) subscribers by service provider – March 2007
Table 30 – DSL subscribers – 1999 - 2007
Table 31 – DSL subscribers by service provider – March 2007
Table 32 – A-LAN subscribers by service provider – March 2007
Table 33 – FttH subscribers by service provider – March 2007
Table 34 – BcN implementation goals in households/subscribers – 2005; 2007; 2010
Table 35 – Mobile subscriber growth – 1994 - 2007
Table 36 – Mobile subscribers and market share by operator – March 2007
Table 37 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator and technology – March 2007
Table 38 – Overall mobile ARPU by operator – December 2006
Table 39 – CDMA2000 1x subscribers by operator and system – 2004; 2007
Table 40 –WCDMA* subscribers by operator – March 2007

Related Reports

Purchase this Report

US$250.00

Licence Information

Annual Publication Profile

Technologies

Broadband Fixed
Internet
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Telecoms Infrastructure

Number of pages 156

Status Archived

Last updated 24 Jul 2007
Update History

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Share this Report

Purchase with Confidence

We wanted to extend our Com World Series of telecoms industry events to the South Pacific region and we were in urgent need of a partner in the region who could assist us with confirming the involvement of governments, telcos and more. Paul Budde and his team executed this perfectly. Paul also provided us with very high quality reports on every aspect of the project, including an amazingly thorough and actionable report on the conference presentations and discussion.

Joe Willcox, Commercial Content Director, Emap Connect, Emap

Special Offers

Finland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
US$575.00 until 24 Apr 2019
(normal price US$1,150.00)

Slovenia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
US$575.00 until 24 Apr 2019
(normal price US$1,150.00)

Sample Reports

A selection of downloadable samples from our Annual Publications catalogue.


Download a Sample Report

More than 4,000 customers from 140 countries utilise BuddeComm Research

Are you interested in BuddeComm's Custom Research Service?

News & Views

Have the latest telecommunications industry news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to Paul's FREE weekly News & Views.