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

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 2021;
  • Broadband market forecasts to 2021

Researchers:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- March 2017 (23rd Edition)

Executive Summary

South Korea Continues as a Fixed Broadband World Leader

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 2017, 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.

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.

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. 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.

Since breaking through the 10 million subscriber mark in 2002, subscriber growth has steadily increased, reaching over 20 million fixed broadband subscribers by 2016. Market penetration is predicted to continue to grow moderately over the next five years reaching over 50% by 2021, with a market penetration of 41%. Growth is being driven by an expected increase in converged solutions being offered such as IPTV and Smart Home services. Much will depend on the continuing strength of the economy in South Korea.

Internet use is widespread in South Korea with surveys even including children as young as three years of age. The internet has permeated all aspects of society and has made a significant contribution to education even at pre-school level. Internet penetration reached 91% by 2016.

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 also 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. It also contains information on internet usage patterns.

Key developments:

  • ISK Telecom (SKT) signed a contract with Samsung Electronics for the deployment the world’s first commercial Internet of Things (IoT)-dedicated nationwide LoRaWAN network.
  • KT and Nokia Networks launched the first IoT lab in South Korea.
  • Three operators hold over 80% of the Korean broadband market: KT, SK Broadband and LGU+.
  • 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.
  • Growth is being driven by an expected increase in converged solutions being offered such as IPTV and Smart Home services.
  • South Korea’s mobile network operators are expected to roll out trial 5G services in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
  • SK Telecom (SKT) completed a successful test of five-band carrier aggregation (5C).
  • SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus’ launched the world’s first commercial interconnected VoLTE service.

Key Companies mentioned in this report:

KT; LG U+; SK Broadband; SK Telecom

Table of Contents

  • 1. Key statistics
    • 1.1 Country overview
    • 1.2 Background
    • 1.3 South Korea’s economy
  • 2. Telecommunications market
    • 2.1 Market Overview
  • 3. Regulatory environment
    • 3.1 Historic overview
    • 3.2 Regulatory authority
      • 3.2.1 KCC – Overview and responsibilities
      • 3.2.2 KCC – related laws
  • 4. Fixed network operators
    • 4.1 KT Corp
    • 4.2 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 M2M/IoT
      • 5.3.2 Smart grids
      • 5.3.3 Smart cities
      • 5.3.4 Connected / Smart homes
  • 6. Broadband market
    • 6.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 6.1.1 Market Overview and analysis
      • 6.1.2 Broadband statistics
    • 6.2 Broadband Technologies
      • 6.2.1 Overview
      • 6.2.2 Cable modem
      • 6.2.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
      • 6.2.4 Apartment LAN
      • 6.2.5 Fibre-to-the-Home
    • 6.3 Fixed network operators
      • 6.3.1 Operator Statistics
      • 6.3.2 KT Corp
      • 6.3.3 SK Broadband
      • 6.3.4 LG U+
    • 6.4 Other fixed broadband services
      • 6.4.1 Fixed wireless (WiFi and WiMAX)
  • 7. Digital media
    • 7.1 Cable TV (CATV)
    • 7.2 Satellite infrastructure
    • 7.3 Videostreaming
      • 7.3.1 IPTV
    • 7.4 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
      • 7.4.1 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 8. Digital economy
    • 8.1 e-Commerce
    • 8.2 e-Banking
    • 8.3 e-Government
      • 8.3.1 Next Generation e-government plan: 2008 - 2012
      • 8.3.2 E-Government Global Academy (eGGA) established in South Korea
  • 9. Mobile communications
    • 9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 9.2 Background of South Korea’s mobile market
    • 9.3 Mobile statistics
      • 9.3.1 General statistics
      • 9.3.2 Mobile Broadband
      • 9.3.3 Forecasts
    • 9.4 Regulatory issues
      • 9.4.1 Licensing
      • 9.4.2 Spectrum
    • 9.5 Mobile infrastructure
      • 9.5.1 Digital networks
      • 9.5.2 Other infrastructure developments
    • 9.6 Major mobile operators
      • 9.6.1 KT Corp
      • 9.6.2 SK Telecom
      • 9.6.3 LG U+
      • 9.6.4 MVNOs
    • 9.7 Mobile content and applications
      • 9.7.1 m-commerce
      • Table 1 – Country statistics South Korea – 2016
      • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2016
      • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2016
      • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2016
      • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016
      • Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
      • Table 7 – KT Corp - Total Voice- PSTN and VoIP lines subscribers and teledensity – 1991 – 2016
      • Table 8 – KT Corp’s fixed-line subscribers (PSTN) and market share – 2004 - 2016
      • Table 9 – KT Corp’s VoIP subscribers – 2008 - 2016
      • Table 10 – LG Telecom fixed-line (PSTN and VoIP) subscribers – 2005 - 2016
      • Table 11 – Fixed lines and teledensity – 2012 - 2017
      • Table 12 – Historical Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1991 – 2011
      • Table 13 – International bandwidth – 1997 - 2017
      • Table 14 – Smart grid investments
      • Table 15 – Fixed broadband subscriber growth and penetration rate – 1999 - 2016
      • Table 16 – Broadband internet subscriber numbers by system – 1998 - 2016
      • Table 17 – Internet users and population penetration rates – 2003 - 2016
      • Table 18 – Internet usage rates by service– 2011 – 2015
      • Table 19 – Main purpose of using the internet – 2010 – 2013; 2015
      • Table 20 – Forecast broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2016; 2018; 2021
      • Table 21 – Cable modem subscribers – 1999 – 2016
      • Table 22 – Broadband cable modem (HFC) subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 23 – DSL subscribers – 1999 – 2016
      • Table 24 – Historical - 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 – FttH subscribers – 2006 - 2016
      • Table 28 – Historic - FttH subscribers by service provider – 2015
      • Table 29 – Broadband subscribers – market share by operator (millions) – 2005 - 2016
      • Table 30 – Broadband market share by operator – 2005 – 2016
      • Table 31 – LG U+ broadband subscribers – 2004 - 2016
      • Table 32 – IPTV subscribers by operator – 2006 - 2015
      • Table 33 – Historic - South Korea VoIP subscribers
      • Table 34 – Historical - Usage of e-government services
      • Table 35 – Mobile subscribers – 2006 - 2016
      • Table 36 – Historic - Mobile subscribers – 1985 - 2005
      • Table 37 - Mobile subscribers and market share by operator – 2016
      • Table 38 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2002 - 2016
      • Table 39 – Mobile market share by operator – 2002 - 2016
      • Table 40 – Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator – 2009 - 2016
      • Table 41 – Historic - Smart phone subscribers and market share
      • Table 42 – Historic - Smart phone and tablet PC subscribers and market share – 2010 – 2015
      • Table 43 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2016
      • Table 44 – Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rates – 2016; 2018; 2021
      • Table 45 – Historic - CDMA mobile subscribers by operator
      • Table 46 – KT Corp’s mobile and 3G subscribers and total market share – 2004 - 2016
      • Table 47 – SK Telecom mobile and 3G subscribers, ARPU – 2002 - 2016
      • Table 48 – SK Telecom smartphone subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2016
      • Table 49 – Monthly LTE usage per subscriber – 2012 - 2016
      • Table 50 –LG U+ revenue, net income, EBITDA – 2009 – 2016
      • Table 51 – LG Telecom mobile subscribers, ARPU – 2003 - 2016
      • Table 52 – Historic - MVNO subscribers by operator – 2012 - 2014
      • Chart 1 – Fixed lines and teledensity – 2012 - 2017
      • Chart 2 – South Korea broadband subscribers and population penetration – 2006 - 2016
      • Chart 3 – Broadband subscribers by operator – 2005 - 2016
      • Chart 4 – South Korea mobile subscriber growth, population penetration – 2006 - 2016
      • Exhibit 1 – Map of South Korea
      • Exhibit 2 – Significant telecoms operators in South Korea
      • Exhibit 3 – KT at a glance
      • Exhibit 4 – Interconnection status by IX
      • Exhibit 5 – National submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
      • Exhibit 6 – International submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
      • Exhibit 7 – Smart grid implementation areas
      • Exhibit 8 – Phased implementation plan of Jeju Smart Grid
      • Exhibit 9 – KT at a glance
      • Exhibit 10 – SK Broadband at a glance
      • Exhibit 11 – Comparison of WiBro and mobile technologies in South Korea
      • Exhibit 12 – KOREASAT satellite status
      • Exhibit 13 – E-government stages: 1980s - present
      • Exhibit 14 – KT at a glance
      • Exhibit 15 – SK Telecom at a glance
      • Exhibit 16 – LG U+ at a glance

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