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 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.

In mid 2015 South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) began preparing a series of measures to deregulate the nation's mobile market by facilitating the issue of a fourth mobile license. In late 2015 Ericsson and LG Uplus signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of 5G and (IoT) technologies.

This report provides an overview of the dynamic mobile market in South Korea and includes a summary of the mobile technologies, associated subscriber statistics down to operator level, and a number of mobile applications proving popular in the market. Mobile forecasts are included to 2021.

Key Developments:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 - 2015
  • Table 7 – Historic - Smart phone subscribers and market share
  • Table 8 – 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 – KT’s Voice and data ARPU – 2004 – 2016
  • Table 14 – SK Telecom revenue, net profit, capex, EBITDA margin – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 15 – SK Telecom mobile and 3G subscribers, ARPU – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 16 – SK Telecom smartphone subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 17 – Monthly LTE usage per subscriber – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 18 –LG U+ revenue, net income, EBITDA – 2009 – 2016
  • Table 19 – LG U+ - total mobile ARPU – 2009 - 2015
  • Table 20 – LG Telecom mobile subscribers, ARPU – 2003 - 2016
  • Table 21 – Historic - MVNO subscribers by operator – 2012 - 2014
  • Chart 1 – South Korea mobile subscriber growth, population penetration – 2006 - 2016
  • Exhibit 2 – SK Telecom at a glance
  • Exhibit 3 – LG U+ at a glance

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