2012 South Korea - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 6 Jun 2012 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 132

Analyst: Paul Budde

Publication Overview

South Korea is a country leading in technology use. The report covers trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and IPTV. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, WiBro);
  • Convergence and digital media;
  • Smart Grids and Smart cities;
  • Forecasts to 2017 in fixed-line, mobile, internet and broadband subscribers.

Researcher:- Paul Budde
Current publication date:- June 2012 (18th Edition)

Executive Summary

Strong LTE and FttX growth South Korea as data use surges across fixed and mobile networks

South Korea has one of the world’s most active telecommunications and Information Technology markets backed by strong support from the government. Spending on ICT and high-technology equipment helped lead a transformation of the economy to one that is more progressively knowledge based. Having invested significantly in ‘basic’ telecommunications infrastructure over past decades, the country has well developed submarine cable and satellite infrastructure as well as solid internet resources to support the growing demand for national and international communications. The government aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based information society in a ‘smart-age’. 

The South Korean Government is committed to transitioning the country to digital terrestrial, digital cable and digital satellite TV broadcasting by 2012. The pressure created by convergence had South Korea rewrite its regulatory arrangements for the broadcasting and communications sector. The operators continue to invest heavily in fibre based broadband deployments and IPTV subscriptions have passed the 5 million mark as more content is available and the operators are able to compete more effectively with their own live broadcasts. 

South Korea continues to be a booming mobile market as it innovatively explores the options for value-added services. The market neared the 110% penetration rate mark into 2012 with many individuals carrying at least one mobile phone. Having launched 3G networks in 2003, these accounted for over 85% of all subscriptions. New investments are intended to drive revenue and gain market share and the year has seen strong growth in LTE after launching in 2011 and a rapid increase in smartphone adoption. 

South Korea has the world’s highest number of broadband services per capita. Into 2012 over 35% of the population and 85% of households were broadband subscribers. FttX accounted for nearly 60% of total subscriptions. Since 2006, Korea’s policy emphasis has been on completing a BcN with wireline speeds of 50-100Mb/s per household and 1-2Mb/s on wireless connections. The plan moving forward is for a UBcN (Ultra Broadband convergence Network) with 1Gb/s speeds on fixed lines or 10Mb/s on wireless by 2012/13. In addition to upgrades to the backbone network a plan was established to link the public sector to a sensor network by 2012.

 The drive towards a ‘new economy’ has seen significant investments in Smart Infrastructure including Cloud Computing, Smart Grids and Smart Cities. The emergence of a National Strategy for Green IT has seen government promotion of new industry creation into 2018 such as 4G broadcasts and 3D and Smart television. 

Market highlights:

  • Into 2012, fibre technology accounted for close to 60% of all broadband subscribers in South Korea
  • Mobile penetration increased to over 107%; LTE was launched and LTE-Advanced testing started
  • The introduction of MVNO services saw ARPU levels decline 20% over the year
  • Spectrum auctions were held raising over US$1.5 billion for 10 year licence allocations
  • Wi-Fi and femtocell investments increased to reduce pressure on the core mobile networks
  • A Smart Grid pilot was underway on Jeju Island with plans for a nationwide Smart Grid by 2030
  • Green Economy initiatives were driving investments in Smart Cities 

South Korea – key telecom parameters – 2011 - 2012



2012 (e)

Internet users (million)



Internet users



Broadband subscribers (million)



Total broadband subscribers



Broadband penetration



Subscribers to telecoms services (million)



Fixed-line telephones



Mobile phones



(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data and BuddeComm forecasts)

For those needing high level strategic analysis and objective analysis on Korea, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

  • The New Songdo City Development planned to be a future Korean “Smart City”
  • The Government’s “Smart Work” initiative that aims to have 30% of public employees work from home or smart-work centres by 2015 with smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices.
  • WiBro subscribers passing the 800,000 mark after investments of over KRW 2,000 billion.
  • the country’s goal to capture 10% of the global cloud services market by 2014 and to halve the cost of operating the public sector’s ICT infrastructure.

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