2016 South Korea - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 2 Mar 2016 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 65

Analyst: Phil Harpur

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Korea's telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors. Subjects include:


  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU, MoU;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media;
  • Mobile subscriber forecasts to 2019;
  • Broadband market forecasts for selective years to 2019.


Researchers:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- February 2016 (22nd Edition)

Executive Summary

South Korea is a world leader in the digital economy

South Korea has transformed its 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.

South Korea has one of the world’s most active telecommunications and Information Technology (IT) markets backed by strong support from the government. As well as the commitment of the government, the sector is boosted by an innovative private sector and a technologically savvy population. Spending on ICT and high-technology equipment helped lead a transformation of the economy. The government aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based information society in a ‘smart-age’.

By 2016, KT was still the largest telephone and fixed-line company. With declining revenues from its fixed-line services, the company has forged ahead with IPTV and LTE. Competition with LG U+ and SK Broadband had intensified on many fronts ranging from IPTV to VoIP. In order to maintain market share it had become an imperative for KT to offer bundled solutions and therefore ramp up its VoIP capabilities.

South Korea’s mobile market has slow growth over the last few years due to a highly mature market. Organic growth by the three main mobile operators, together with the multitude of niche MVNOs will result in further growth to 2017 however growth rates will taper off further over the next few years as the market further matures. By 2015 SK Telecom was the market leader followed KT and LG Telecom.

New investments are intended to drive revenue and gain market share and recent years has seen the launch of LTE and the rapid increase in smartphone adoption.

South Korea has the world’s highest number of broadband services per capita. Into 2013 over 37% of the population and 95% of households were broadband subscribers. FttX accounted for 60% of total subscriptions. Korea’s policy emphasis has been to establish an Ultra Broadband convergence Network (UBcN) with 1Gb/s speeds on fixed lines and 10Mb/s on wireless by 2015.

VoIP services are becoming increasingly popular as operators bundle services in a bid to stop the decline in ARPU. 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 live broadcasts.

The widespread adoption of the Internet in South Korea coupled with the continued pace of development has resulted in an exciting digital economy. This report looks at various aspects of the digital economy in South Korea that support the drive to converged services. It includes information on e-commerce users, e-banking and e-government. This report also contains information on internet usage pattern.

Key developments:

  • SK Telecom worked with Ericsson and Sony Mobile to trial the use of IoT wearables over LTE networks. The
  • SK Telecom introduced ‘ThingPlug’, an open IoT platform based on oneM2M standards.
  • Samsung and SK Telecom signed an agreement to ensure interoperability of their smart home platforms covering consumer electronic products.
  • LG Uplus demonstrated faster mobile broadband speeds using technology termed as LTE in Unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U).
  • In 2015 KT Corp constructed a new mobile network service ‘Giga LTE’ service utilises both LTE and Wi-Fi technologies to offer a peak speed of 1.17Gbps.
  • Ericsson and LG Uplus signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of 5G and (IoT) technologies.
  • SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus’ launched the world’s first commercial interconnected VoLTE service.
  • Three operators hold over 80% of the Korean broadband market: KT, SK Broadband and LGU+.
  • Internet use is widespread in South Korea with surveys even including children as young as three years of age.
  • South Korea’s broadband subscriber base continues to rise. The move towards faster speeds and becoming full-service operators is expected to further drive this trend.
  • FttX deployments have increased as operators try to gain customers through bundled services such as high-definition IPTV.
  • Market penetration is predicted to continue to grow moderately over the next five years reaching between 50% and 65% by 2021.
  • Growth is being driven by an expected increase in converged solutions being offered such as IPTV and Smart Home services.

Companies mentioned in this report:

KT; LG U+; SK Broadband; SK Telecom

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