South Korea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - 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;
  • Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media;
  • Mobile subscriber forecasts to 2023
  • Broadband and mobile broadband forecasts to 2023

Researchers:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- May 2019 (25th Edition)

Executive Summary

South Korea leads the Asian region with the first launch of 5G services

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 2nd out of 34 with an Asian Telecoms Maturity Index score of 93. (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 very 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 2023.

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 2023 growth is expected to continue to increase slowly.

The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced the establishment of a new fund specifically targeting technologies and projects that can provide data rates of 10Gbps, with plans to reach 50% adoption rate of the super-fast speeds by 2022.

Mobile subscriber growth has been moderate in mobile market 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 2023. Growth rates will taper off further over the next few years as the market further matures in a highly competitive market. The market will be driven by the uptake of both 4G and 5G services.

South Korea’s three mobile operators, SK Telecom, LG Uplus and KT Corp have switched on their respective 5G networks for enterprise customers.

KT Corp and LG Uplus launched commercial services to consumers. Initial coverage is reported to be heavily focused on Seoul and its surroundings.

KT’s industrial 5G development plans focus on five main areas in collaboration with private sector companies and the government to develop 5G services for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) sectors.

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 2023.

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.
  • Over the next five years to 2023 fixed broadband growth is expected to continue to increase slowly.
  • South Korea's three mobile operators have launched 5G services.
  • Mobile subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years to 2023.
  • KT's industrial 5G development plans focus on five main areas in collaboration with private sector companies and the government.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

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

Phil Harpur
May 2019

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

    • Country overview
  • Telecommunications market

    • Market Overview and Analysis
    • Regional Asian Market Comparison
    • Background
  • Regulatory environment

    • Regulatory authority
      • KCC – Overview and responsibilities
      • KCC – related laws
  • Fixed network operators

    • Overview
    • KT Corp
    • LG U+
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
      • Internet eXchange (IX)
      • National submarine cable infrastructure
    • International infrastructure
      • International submarine cable infrastructure
    • Smart infrastructure
      • IoT
      • Smart grids
      • Smart cities
      • Driverless Cars
  • Broadband market

    • Market Overview and analysis
    • Broadband statistics and Forecasts
    • Broadband Technologies
      • Overview
      • Cable modem
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
      • Apartment LAN
      • Fibre-to-the-Home
    • Fixed Broadband operators
      • Operator Statistics
      • Background
      • KT Corp
      • SK Broadband
      • LG U+
      • WiMAX
      • WiFi
  • Digital economy

    • e-Government
  • Digital media

    • Satellite infrastructure
    • Videostreaming
    • VoIP
  • Mobile communications

    • Market Overview and Analysis
      • Background
    • Mobile statistics
      • Mobile Subscribers and Forecasts
      • Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Forecasts
    • Regulatory issues
      • Licensing
      • Subsidies
      • Spectrum
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 2G
      • 3G
      • 4G
      • 5G
      • VoLTE
    • Major mobile operators
      • Operator statistics
      • KT Corp
      • SK Telecom
      • LG U+
      • MVNOs
    • Mobile content and applications
      • m-commerce

List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Country Statistics, Major Operators and Telco Authorities – 2018 (e)
  • Table 2 – Top Level Country Statistics – 2018 (e)
  • Table 3 – KT Corp - Total fixed Voice - PSTN and VoIP lines subscribers – 1991 – 2018
  • Table 4 – KT Corp’s fixed-line subscribers (PSTN) (millions) – 2004 – 2018
  • Table 5 – KT Corp’s VoIP subscribers – 2008 – 2018
  • Table 6 – LG U+ fixed-line (PSTN and VoIP) subscribers – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 7 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and penetration – 1991 – 2007
  • Table 9 – International bandwidth – 1997 – 2017
  • Table 10 – Smart grid investments
  • Table 11 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2023
  • Table 12 – Historic - Fixed broadband subscriber growth and penetration rate – 1999 - 2006
  • Table 13 – Historic - Broadband internet subscriber numbers by system – 1998 – 2016
  • Table 14 – Internet Users and Penetration – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 15 – Broadband subscribers – market share by operator (millions) – 2005 - 2018
  • Table 16 – Broadband market share by operator – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 17 – LG U+ broadband subscribers – 2004 - 2018
  • Table 18 – IPTV subscribers by operator – 2006 - 2017
  • Table 19 – Historic - South Korea VoIP subscribers
  • Table 20 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2023
  • Table 21 – Historic - Mobile subscribers – 1985 – 2006
  • Table 22 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2023
  • Table 23 – Historic - CDMA mobile subscribers by operator
  • Table 24 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 25 – Mobile market share by operator – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 26 – Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 27 – KT Corp’s mobile subscribers by 3G / 4G – 2004 – 2018
  • Table 28 – Historic - SK Telecom mobile 3G / 4G subscribers – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 29 – SK Telecom smartphone subscribers – 2009 – 2018
  • Table 31 – Historic - MVNO subscribers by operator – 2012 – 2014

List of Charts

  • Chart 4 – Telecoms Maturity Index – Northern Asia
  • Chart 5 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2007 – 2018
  • Chart 6 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2023
  • Chart 7 – Broadband market share by operator – 2005 - 2018
  • Chart 8 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2023
  • Chart 9 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2023

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Map of South Korea
  • 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 – KOREASAT satellite status

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