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South Korea - Mobile Market - Overview, Statistics and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

South Korea's mobile market passed the 110% penetration rate mark into 2013. With all three mobile operators having merged the fixed and mobile sides of business in 2011, triple-play was promoted more actively. The introduction of converged services across the fixed-line, mobile and broadband infrastructure has resulted in more attractive bundled pricing for consumers. LTE was launched in 2011 and saw fast growth into 2013, accounting for over 20% of all subscriptions. 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 2017.

Key Developments:

Mobile penetration over 110% and ARPU around US$25; launch of LTE and testing of LTE-Advanced; introduction of MVNOs in 2011; smartphone adoption rising to over 20 million subscribers and 40% of the mobile subscriber base; an 11-fold jump in mobile data traffic over a one year period; Wi-Fi traffic accounting for a third of all mobile traffic; drive for NFC chips in smartphones; first ever spectrum auctions as 2G frequency bands expired; launch of HD voice over LTE (VoLTE) by SK Telecom; a reported minimum 50% increase in monthly data usage on LTE compared with 3G; uptrend in ARPU driven by demand and LTE pricing.

Companies covered in this report include:

KT; LG U+; SK Telecom.


1. Synopsis
2. Mobile Communications
2.1 Overview of South Korea's mobile market
2.2 Background of South Korea's mobile market
2.3 Mobile statistics
2.3.1 Mobile subscribers 1985 - 2013
2.3.2 Mobile subscribers by operator
2.3.3 Mobile ARPU by operator
2.4 Fourth mobile operator to enter market?
2.4.1 KMI
2.4.2 Kbiz
2.5 MVNOs
2.6 Spectrum auctions: 1.2GHz, 1.8GHz and 800MHz
3. Mobile technologies
3.1 Analogue (AMPS)
3.2 Personal Communication Service (PCS)
3.3 Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
3.4 Wideband CDMA (WCDMA)
3.5 LTE
3.6 Voice over LTE
3.7 Smartphones
3.7.1 Slow adoption to 2007
3.7.2 Brand loyalty
4. Mobile data services
4.1 Market overview
4.2 Wireless Internet NIDA survey 2010
4.2.1 Wireless internet usage rate
4.2.2 Wireless internet usage rate by service type
4.2.3 Wireless internet usage rate by gender
4.2.4 Wireless internet usage rate by age
4.2.5 Purpose of using Mobile Phone Internet
4.2.6 Wireless internet device usage - 2010
4.2.7 Smartphone usage rate
4.2.8 Expenses on mobile phone wireless internet
5. Mobile content and applications
5.1 Overview
5.2 M-commerce/m-payment
5.2.1 Mobile credit cards
5.3 Mobile banking (m-banking)
5.4 Mobile government (m-government)
5.5 Apps Stores
5.6 Mobile advertising
5.7 NFC chips in smartphones
5.8 Mobile TV
5.9 Mobile learning
5.10 OTT Voice
6. Forecast: Mobile subscribers 2012- 2013; 2017
6.1 Forecasting methodology
7. Related reports
Table 1 Mobile subscribers 1985 - 2013
Table 2 Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator and technology June 2013
Table 3 Mobile operator market share 2002 - 2013
Table 4 Mobile subscribers by operator 2002 2013
Table 5 Blended mobile ARPU by operator 2Q 2013
Table 6 Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator 1Q 2011 2Q 2013
Table 7 MVNO subscribers by operator January 2012, September 2012
Table 8 CDMA mobile subscribers by operator 2002 - 2013
Table 9 WCDMA subscribers by operator June 2013
Table 10 LTE mobile subscribers by operator 2011 2013
Table 11 Smart phone subscribers and market share 2009 - 2012
Table 12 Forecast smart phone and tablet PC subscribers and market share 2010 2015
Table 13 Purpose of using mobile phone wireless internet 2009 - 2010
Table 14 Wireless internet device usage - 2010
Table 15 Mobile banking service subscribers 2003 2010
Table 16 Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration lower band forecast 2011 - 2012; 2017
Table 17 Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration higher band forecast 2011 - 2012; 2017
Chart 1 South Korea mobile subscriber growth, population penetration 1995 - 2013
Chart 2 Operator total market share versus LTE market share September 2012
Chart 3 South Korea mobile subscribers by operator 2002 - 2012
Chart 4: Trends in wireless internet usage rate 2002 - 2010
Chart 5 South Korea mobile banking subscribers 2003 - 2010

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