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

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


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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