South Korea - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
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.0 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.
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.