South Korea - Mobile Infrastructure, Broadband, Operators - Statistics and Analyses

Synopsis

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 2018 however growth rates will taper off further over the next few years as the market further matures. Market penetration reached 117% in 2016 and is predicted to reach between 119% and 122% by 2021 driven by the uptake of both 4G and 5G services.

The split in mobile operator market share has remained relatively constant over the last two decades. LG Telecom however has made a marginal increase in market share over that time. SK Telecom is the market leader with 49% market share while KT and LG Telecom hold 31% and 20% overall market share respectively.

The mobile broadband market is highly mature in South Korea. Penetration has increased moderately over the past five years from 105% in 2012 to 111% in 2016.

Prepaid voice services have not been particularly prevalent in South Korea, with the subscription model dominating the mobile market.

Key Developments

  • South Korea’s mobile network operators are expected to roll out trial 5G services in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
  • SK Telecom (SKT) completed a successful test of five-band carrier aggregation (5C). It is reportedly aiming to commercialise the technology in the first half of 2017.
  • SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus’ launched the world’s first commercial interconnected VoLTE service.
  • LG Uplus introduced a new technology designed to boost telecom quality in network blind spots, called ‘Cloud Digital Unit’ (‘CDU’).

Companies covered in this report include:

KT; LG U+; SK Telecom.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Market Overview and Analysis
  • 3. Background of South Korea’s mobile market
  • 4. Mobile statistics
    • 4.1 General statistics
      • 4.1.1 Mobile subscribers by operator
      • 4.1.2 Mobile ARPU by operator
      • 4.1.3 Smartphones
    • 4.2 Mobile Broadband
    • 4.3 Forecasts
      • 4.3.1 Notes on scenario forecasts
  • 5. Regulatory issues
    • 5.1 Licensing
    • 5.2 Spectrum
      • 5.2.1 Spectrum auctions: 1.2GHz, 1.8GHz and 800MHz
      • 5.2.2 Additional spectrum allocation
      • 5.2.3 Spectrum Auctions - 2016
  • 6. Mobile infrastructure
    • 6.1 Digital networks
      • 6.1.1 Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
      • 6.1.2 Wideband CDMA (WCDMA)
      • 6.1.3 LTE
      • 6.1.4 LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)
      • 6.1.5 5G
    • 6.2 Other infrastructure developments
      • 6.2.1 VoLTE
  • 7. Major mobile operators
    • 7.1 KT Corp
    • 7.2 SK Telecom
      • 7.2.1 Overview
      • 7.2.2 Next Generation Growth Strategy
      • 7.2.3 SK Planet
    • 7.3 LG U+
    • 7.4 MVNOs
  • 8. Mobile content and applications
    • 8.1 m-commerce
      • 8.1.1 App-based m-payment
  • 9. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Mobile subscribers – 2006 - 2016
  • Table 2 – Historic - Mobile subscribers – 1985 - 2005
  • Table 3 - Mobile subscribers and market share by operator – 2016
  • Table 4 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 5 – Mobile market share by operator – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 6 – Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 7 – Historic - Smart phone subscribers and market share
  • Table 8 – Historic - Smart phone and tablet PC subscribers and market share – 2010 – 2015
  • Table 9 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rates – 2016; 2018; 2021
  • Table 11 – Historic - CDMA mobile subscribers by operator
  • Table 12 – KT Corp’s mobile and 3G subscribers and total market share – 2004 - 2016
  • Table 13 – SK Telecom mobile and 3G subscribers, ARPU – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 14 – SK Telecom smartphone subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 15 – Monthly LTE usage per subscriber – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 16 –LG U+ revenue, net income, EBITDA – 2009 – 2016
  • Table 17 – LG Telecom mobile subscribers, ARPU – 2003 - 2016
  • Table 18 – Historic - MVNO subscribers by operator – 2012 - 2014
  • Chart 1 – South Korea mobile subscriber growth, population penetration – 2006 - 2016
  • Exhibit 1 – KT at a glance
  • Exhibit 2 – SK Telecom at a glance
  • Exhibit 3 – LG U+ at a glance

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