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

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in South Korea's telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband,  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
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media;
  • Mobile subscriber forecasts to 2022
  • Broadband market forecasts to 2022

Researchers:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- February 2018 (24th Edition)

Executive Summary

South Korea continues as a market leader in 5G

South Korea has transformed its economy to one that is more progressively knowledge based. It has invested significantly in telecommunications infrastructure over past decades.

South Korea is ranked 1st out of 34 with an Asian Telecoms Maturity Index score of 92. (BuddeComm’s “Asian Telecoms Maturity Index”, is an index (on a scale between 0 and 100) that measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industry in all of the 34 countries in Asia.) Compared to other Asian nations, South Korea has an extremely high mobile and mobile broadband penetration and very high fixed broadband penetration.

Fixed lines in South Korea have been gradually declining over the past five years. This trend is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2022.

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’.

Huawei has partnered with LG U+. for the launch of Seoul TechCity as part of its commitment to drive smart city efforts. The Seoul TechCity collaborative project aims to deliver smart city capabilities for the Korean capital.

South Korea has the world’s highest number of broadband services per capita. 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.

Fixed-line broadband market penetration has grown slowly over the past five years in a highly mature market. Over the next five years to 2022 growth is expected to continue to increase slowly.

SK Telecom announced the introduction of a new technology for the next generation of Wi-Fi that it claims can deliver downlink speeds ‘as fast as 5G technology’.

The Korean government has developed and demonstrated broadband-based services like e-health, e-learning, e-government and u-City. E-health services are provided to remote island regions of Korea. In this way, broadband has been used as a method to narrow the gap between rich and poor and among classes and regions.

Growth in South Korea’s mobile subscriber market has been moderate over the past five years. The market has been driven by organic growth from the three main mobile operators, together with the multitude of niche MVNOs.

Mobile subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years to 2022. As the market is highly competitive, growth rates will taper off further over the next few years. 5G adoption by 2026 could reach as high as 90%.

In November 2017 LG Uplus partnered with Huawei to complete a large-scale 5G network test in a pre-commercial environment in the Gangnam District of Seoul and SK Telecom announced the successful demonstration of ‘essential technologies for 5G network communications in a real-world setting’.

The mobile broadband subscriber base in South Korea has grown moderately over the past five years in a relatively mature market supported by widespread rollouts of 4G infrastructure. Slower growth is predicted over the next five years to 2022.

Key developments:

  • SK Telecom became the first South Korean mobile operator to test autonomous cars on public roads.
  • Huawei has partnered with LG U+. for the launch of Seoul TechCity.
  • Fixed lines in South Korea have been gradually declining over the past five years.
  • SK Telecom announced a new technology for the next generation of Wi-Fi.
  • Over the next five years to 2022 fixed broadband growth is expected to continue to increase slowly.
  • LG Uplus partnered with Huawei to complete a large-scale 5G network test in a pre-commercial environment.

Companies mentioned in this report:

KT; LG U+; SK Broadband; SK Telecom, SK Broadband, Hanaro Telecom

Table of Contents

  • 1. Key statistics
    • 1.1 Country overview
      • 1.1.1 Background
      • 1.1.2 South Korea’s economy
  • 2. Telecommunications market
    • 2.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 2.2 Regional Asian Market Comparison
    • 2.3 Background
  • 3. Regulatory environment
    • 3.1 Regulatory authority
      • 3.1.1 KCC – Overview and responsibilities
      • 3.1.2 KCC – related laws
  • 4. Fixed network operators
    • 4.1 Overview
    • 4.2 KT Corp
    • 4.3 LG U+
  • 5. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 5.1 Overview of the national telecom network
      • 5.1.1 Internet eXchange (IX)
      • 5.1.2 National submarine cable infrastructure
    • 5.2 International infrastructure
      • 5.2.1 International submarine cable infrastructure
    • 5.3 Smart infrastructure
      • 5.3.1 IoT
      • 5.3.2 Smart grids
      • 5.3.3 Smart cities
      • 5.3.4 Connected / Smart homes
      • 5.3.5 Driverless Cars
  • 6. Broadband market
    • 6.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 6.1.1 Market Overview and analysis
    • 6.2 Broadband statistics and Forecasts
      • 6.2.1 Broadband subscribers by access type
      • 6.2.2 Internet users
      • 6.2.3 Internet usage patterns
    • 6.3 Broadband Technologies
      • 6.3.1 Overview
      • 6.3.2 Cable modem
      • 6.3.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
      • 6.3.4 Apartment LAN
      • 6.3.5 Fibre-to-the-Home
    • 6.4 Fixed Broadband operators
      • 6.4.1 Operator Statistics
      • 6.4.2 Background
      • 6.4.3 KT Corp
      • 6.4.4 SK Broadband
      • 6.4.5 LG U+
    • 6.5 Fixed Wireless services
      • 6.5.1 WiMAX
      • 6.5.2 WiFi
  • 7. Digital economy
    • 7.1 e-Commerce
    • 7.2 e-Banking
    • 7.3 e-Government
      • 7.3.1 Next Generation e-government plan: 2008 - 2012
      • 7.3.2 E-Government Global Academy (eGGA) established in South Korea
  • 8. Digital media
    • 8.1 Cable TV (CATV)
    • 8.2 Satellite infrastructure
    • 8.3 Videostreaming
      • 8.3.1 IPTV
    • 8.4 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
      • 8.4.1 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 9. Mobile communications
    • 9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 9.2 Background
    • 9.3 Mobile statistics
      • 9.3.1 Mobile Subscribers and Forecasts
      • 9.3.2 Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Forecasts
    • 9.4 Regulatory issues
      • 9.4.1 Licensing
      • 9.4.2 Subsidies
      • 9.4.3 Spectrum
    • 9.5 Mobile infrastructure
      • 9.5.1 Digital networks
      • 9.5.2 Other infrastructure developments
    • 9.6 Major mobile operators
      • 9.6.1 Operator statistics
      • 9.6.2 KT Corp
      • 9.6.3 SK Telecom
      • 9.6.4 LG U+
      • 9.6.5 MVNOs
    • 9.7 Mobile content and applications
      • 9.7.1 m-commerce
      • Table 1 – Country statistics South Korea – 2017 (e)
      • Table 2 – Internet user statistics – 2017 (e)
      • Table 3 – Broadband statistics – 2017 (e)
      • Table 4 – Telephone network statistics – 2017 (e)
      • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2017 (e)
      • Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
      • Table 7 – KT Corp - Total fixed Voice - PSTN and VoIP lines subscribers – 1991 – 2017
      • Table 8 – KT Corp’s fixed-line subscribers (PSTN) (millions) and market share – 2004 - 2017
      • Table 9 – KT Corp’s VoIP subscribers – 2008 - 2017
      • Table 10 – LG Telecom fixed-line (PSTN and VoIP) subscribers – 2005 - 2017
      • Table 11– Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2007 - 2017
      • Table 12 – Historical Fixed lines in service and penetration – 1991 – 2007
      • Table 13 – International bandwidth – 1997 - 2017
      • Table 14 – Smart grid investments
      • Table 15 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 - 2022
      • Table 16 – Historic - Fixed broadband subscriber growth and penetration rate – 1999 - 2006
      • Table 17 – Historic - Broadband internet subscriber numbers by system – 1998 - 2016
      • Table 18– Internet Users and Penetration – 2007 - 2017
      • Table 19 – Historic - Internet usage rates by service– 2011 – 2015
      • Table 20 – Historic - Main purpose of using the internet – 2010 – 2013; 2015
      • Table 21 – Historic - Cable modem subscribers – 1999 – 2016
      • Table 22 – Historic - Broadband cable modem (HFC) subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 23 – Historic - DSL subscribers – 1999 – 2016
      • Table 24 – Historic - DSL subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 25 – A-LAN subscribers – 2002 - 2016
      • Table 26 – Historic - A-LAN subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 27 – Historic - FttH subscribers – 2006 - 2016
      • Table 28 – Historic - FttH subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 29 – Broadband subscribers – market share by operator (millions) – 2005 - 2017
      • Table 30 – Broadband market share by operator – 2005 – 2017
      • Table 31 – LG U+ broadband subscribers – 2004 - 2017
      • Table 32 – IPTV subscribers by operator – 2006 - 2017
      • Table 33 – Historic - South Korea VoIP subscribers
      • Table 34– Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 - 2022
      • Table 35 – Historic - Mobile subscribers – 1985 - 2006
      • Table 36 – Historic - Smart phone subscribers and market share
      • Table 37 – Historic - Smart phone and tablet PC subscribers and market share – 2010 – 2015
      • Table 38 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 - 2022
      • Table 39 – Historic - CDMA mobile subscribers by operator
      • Table 40 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2002 - 2017
      • Table 41 – Mobile market share by operator – 2002 - 2017
      • Table 42 – Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator – 2002 - 2017
      • Table 43 – KT Corp’s mobile subscribers by 3G / 4G – 2004 - 2017
      • Table 44 – Historic - SK Telecom mobile 3G / 4G subscribers – 2002 - 2017
      • Table 45 – SK Telecom smartphone subscriber – 2009 - 2017
      • Table 46 – LG Telecom mobile subscribers, ARPU – 2003 - 2017
      • Table 47 – Historic - MVNO subscribers by operator – 2012 - 2014
      • Chart 1 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
      • Chart 2 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index – Northern Asia
      • Chart 3– Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
      • Chart 4– Fixed Broadband vs Mobile Penetration - Northern Asia (selected countries)
      • Chart 5 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2007 - 2017
      • Chart 6 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 - 2022
      • Chart 7 – Internet Users and Penetration – 2007 - 2017
      • Chart 8 – Broadband market share by operator – 2005 - 2017
      • Chart 9 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 - 2022
      • Chart 10 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 - 2022
      • Exhibit 1 – Map of South Korea
      • Exhibit 2 – Key Market Characteristics by Market Segment
      • Exhibit 3 – Northern Asia -Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
      • Exhibit 4 – Significant telecoms operators in South Korea
      • Exhibit 5 – Interconnection status by IX
      • Exhibit 6 – National submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
      • Exhibit 7 – International submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
      • Exhibit 8 – Smart grid implementation areas
      • Exhibit 9 – Phased implementation plan of Jeju Smart Grid
      • Exhibit 10 – Comparison of WiBro and mobile technologies in South Korea
      • Exhibit 11 – E-government stages: 1980s - present
      • Exhibit 12 – KOREASAT satellite status

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