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South Korea - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Operators searching for the next growth driver as LTE in South Korea matures

South Korea has one of the world’s most active telecommunications and Information Technology markets backed by strong support from the government. Spending on ICT and high-technology equipment helped lead a transformation of the economy to one that is more progressively knowledge based. Having invested significantly in ‘basic’ telecommunications infrastructure over past decades, the country now possesses well developed national and international communications infrastructure. Government involvement continues with the aim of transforming the country into a knowledge-based information society in a ‘smart-age’.

South Korea’s operators have invested heavily in fibre based broadband deployments, laying the foundations for triple play services. IPTV subscriptions have grown beyond the 10 million mark as more content is available and the operators are able to compete more effectively with their own live broadcasts. To underpin further growth, KT unveiled a new vision known as “GigaTopia” in 2014. The vision is comprised of three goals: delivering Gigabyte speeds to end users, developing an “Internet of Things (IOT)” platform and delivering convergent services such as combined WiFi and LTE-Advanced. To meet these goals KT plans to invest KRW4.5 trillion over three years.

South Korea continues to be a booming mobile market as it rapidly takes up LTE and innovatively explores the options for value-added services. The market passed the 110% penetration level with many individuals carrying at least one mobile phone. 4G LTE now represents the majority of mobile connections after it was introduced in 2011. Not surprisingly, there has also been a rapid increase in mobile traffic, hinting at potential profitability challenges ahead as operators are forced to spend on upgrading network capacity while at the same time reduce tariffs in response to competition.

South Korea has the world’s highest number of broadband services per capita. Into 2015 approximately 40% of the population and around 95% of households were broadband subscribers. Over 60% of broadband subscribers used FttH or Apartment LANs, with the remainder accessing predominantly cable. KT unveiled plans to increase access speeds to 1Gb/s as part of its GigaTopia strategy, triggering a potential round of infrastructure upgrades as competitors spend on CAPEX to keep pace. The move by KT fulfils Korea’s UBcN (Ultra Broadband convergence Network) strategy, which aims for 1Gb/s speeds on fixed lines.

The drive towards a ‘new economy’ has seen significant investments in the Internet of Things (IOT) including Smart Grids and Smart Cities. The major operators successfully utilised LTE introduction to grow revenue by upselling ARPU. However with LTE penetration approaching maturity levels, the major operators are increasingly looking towards the IOT as the next major revenue growth driver.

Market highlights:

LTE has been used to successfully increase ARPU levels through upselling;Strong LTE demand was supported by new LTE plans and introduction of more smartphones into the market resulting in ARPU trending upwards;

Commercial LTE-Advanced has been launched with the focus now on increasing downlink speeds;

Convergence has been identified as the next growth driver as LTE penetration matures;

Fixed broadband population penetration is approaching 40%;

Into 2015, fibre technology accounted for almost 60% of all broadband subscribers in South Korea while ADSL subscriptions had declined to less than 10%, the remainder is due to cable modem subscribers;

KT has launched its new GigiTopia vision to stimulate growth through increased fixed broadband speeds;

Usability of online payment services has improved after the regulatory requirement to use Active-X was removed. The online payment opportunity has spurred new players such as Kakao to enter the online payment market;

HD voice over LTE (VoLTE) was launched allowing operators to plan towards eventually allocating most if not all spectrum to LTE.


  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics South Korea - 2015
    • Table Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2013
    • Table Telephone network statistics - 2014
    • Table Internet user statistics - 2015
    • Table Broadband statistics - January 2015
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2015
    • Table National telecommunications authorities
    • COUNTRY OVERVIEW
      • Background
      • South Korea's economy
        • Table South Korea GDP real growth rate - 2008 - 2013
        • Table South Korea GDP and GDP per capita - 2000 - 2017
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
    • COMMUNICATION INDUSTRY REVENUE BY TYPE
      • Table Telecommunications fixed-line, mobile, total revenue and investment - 2000 - 2013
      • Table Wireline communication service revenue by sector - 2008 - 2013
      • Table Wireless communication service revenue by sector - 2008 - 2012
    • GLOBAL RANKINGS AND SOUTH KOREA
      • Government Broadband Index - EIU
      • Global Innovation Index - INSEAD
    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET SECTORS
      • Fixed-line and mobile services
        • Table Fixed and mobile lines in service and teledensity - 1991 - 2015
        • Table KT Corp's fixed-line subscribers and market share - 2003 - 2016
      • Broadband in South Korea
        • Table Broadband internet subscribers by operator - 2005 - 2014
        • Table Broadband internet market share by operator - 2005 - 2014
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • KCC - OVERVIEW AND RESPONSIBILITIES
    • KCC - RELATED LAWS
    • NATIONAL INTERNET DEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF KOREA (NIDA)
    • POLICY OVERVIEW
  • FIXED NETWORK MARKET
    • FORECAST FIXED-LINE SUBSCRIBERS - 2013 - 2015; 2018
      • Table Forecast fixed-line subscribers and penetration - higher band: 2013 - 2015; 2018
      • Table Forecast fixed-line subscribers and penetration - lower band: 2013 - 2015; 2018
  • MAJOR OPERATORS
    • OVERVIEW OF MAJOR TELECOM OPERATORS
    • KT CORP
      • Company overview
        • Table KT at a glance - December 2014
      • Company background
        • Table Mobile operator market share by subscribers - 2002 - 2015
      • KT Corp: Financial statistics
        • Table KT Corp revenue, net profit, capex - 2008 - 2014
      • KT Corp: Operations statistics
        • Table KT Corp's fixed-line (PSTN) subscribers and market share - 2003 - 2016
        • Table KT Corp's VoIP and total subscribers - 2008 - 2016
        • Table KT Corp's broadband internet subscribers and market share - 2003 - 2015
        • Table KT Corp's IPTV subscribers, ARPU and market share - 2006 - 2015
        • Table KT Corp's WiBro subscribers - 2007 - 2014
        • Table KT Corp's mobile and 3G subscribers and total market share - 2004 - 2014
        • Table KT's Voice and data ARPU - 2004 - 2014
        • Table KT's smartphone subscribers and penetration - 2009 - 2014
    • SK BROADBAND
      • Company overview
        • Table SK Broadband at a glance - December 2014
      • Company developments
      • Company background
      • SK Broadband: Financial statistics
        • Table SK Broadband revenue, net income, capex, EBITDA - 2003 - 2014
      • SK Broadband: Operations statistics
        • Table SK Broadband - broadband internet subscribers - 2012 - 2015
    • SK TELECOM
      • Company overview
        • Table SK Telecom at a glance - December 2014
      • Company background
      • SK Telecom: Financial statistics
        • Table SK Telecom revenue, net profit, capex, EBITDA margin - 2005 - 2014
      • SK Telecom: Operations statistics
        • Table SK Telecom mobile and 3G subscribers, ARPU - 2002 - 2014
        • Table SK Telecom smartphone subscribers and penetration - 2009 - 2014
        • Table Monthly LTE usage per subscriber - 2012 - 2014
      • SK Telecom: LTE 2.0 plans
      • SK Planet
    • LG U+
      • Company overview
        • Table LG U+ at a glance - December 2014
      • LG U+: Financial statistics
        • Table LG U+ revenue, net income, EBITDA - 2009 - 2014
        • Table LG U+ revenue breakdown by service - 2009 - 2014
        • Table LG U+ capex - 2009 - 2014
        • Table LG U+ - total mobile ARPU - 2009 - 2014
      • LG U+: Operations statistics
        • Table LG Telecom mobile subscribers, ARPU - 2003 - 2014
        • Table LG Telecom smartphone subscribers and penetration - 2011 - 2014
        • Table LG Telecom fixed-line (PSTN and VoIP) subscribers - 2005 - 2014
        • Table LG U+ broadband subscribers - 2004 - 2014
        • Table LG U+ IPTV subscribers - 2007 - 2015
      • LG U+: "Beyond Telecom" initiatives
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL SUBMARINE CABLE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table National submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
    • INTERNATIONAL SUBMARINE CABLE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table International submarine fibre optic cables overview in South Korea
    • SATELLITE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table KOREASAT satellite status
    • INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Internet eXchange (IX)
        • Table Interconnection status by IX - 2014
      • South Korea registered domains
        • Table Registered .kr domains - 1993 - 2015
      • IPv6
        • Table Number of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses - 1997 - 2015
      • South Korea international internet bandwidth
        • Table International bandwidth - 1997 - 2013
    • SMART GRIDS
      • Table Smart grid investment to 2015
      • Smart grid: new laws
      • Smart grid stages: 2010 - 2030
      • Five smart grid implementation areas
      • Jeju Island
        • Table Phased implementation plan of Jeju Smart Grid: 2010 - 2013
    • SMART CITIES
      • New Songdo City
      • Busan
    • INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT OVERVIEW
    • INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT STAGES OF GROWTH
      • Ubiquitous Korea (u-Korea)
    • GREEN IT IN SOUTH KOREA
    • TOP 10 ICT FOCUS AREAS: 2010 - 2018
    • NEW TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
      • Controlling TVs with one's eyes
  • INTERNET MARKET
    • INTERNET STATISTICS
      • South Korea internet users
        • Table Internet users and population penetration rates - 1994 - 2016
        • Table Internet users and population penetration rates - 2003 - 2013
      • South Korea internet subscribers
        • Table Internet subscribers - 1996 - 2015
        • Table Personal computers and penetration by population and household - 1995 - 2014
    • INTERNET USAGE PATTERNS
      • Table Internet usage rates by service - 2009 - 2013
      • Table Main purpose of using the internet - 2010 - 2013
    • INTERNET FORECASTS
      • Forecast internet users - 2013 - 2015; 2019
        • Table Forecast internet users and penetration - higher band: 2013 - 2015; 2019
        • Table Forecast internet users and penetration - lower band: 2013 - 2015; 2019
      • Forecasting methodology
    • INTERNET MEDIA CONSUMPTION
      • Table Online versus offline media consumption - 2012
  • BROADBAND MARKET
    • BACKGROUND
      • Broadband success criteria
    • OVERVIEW
    • BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Fixed broadband internet subscriber growth and penetration rate - 1998 - 2015
      • Table Broadband subscribers and households - January 2015
    • OPERATOR BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS
      • Table Broadband market share by operator - January 2015
    • BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS BY ACCESS TYPE
      • Table Broadband internet subscriber numbers by system - 1998 - 2015
    • FORECAST BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS - 2013 - 2015; 2019
      • Table Forecast broadband subscribers and penetration - higher band: 2013 - 2015; 2019
      • Table Forecast broadband subscribers and penetration - lower band: 2013 - 2015; 2019
    • BROADBAND GOVERNMENT TARGETS
      • Broadband convergence Network
        • Table BcN implementation in households/subscribers - 2005; 2007 - 2011
      • Ultra Broadband convergence Network
        • Table UBcN implementation goals in households/subscribers - 2009 - 2013
      • Broadband speed results
    • BROADBAND TECHNOLOGIES
      • Overview
        • Table Broadband subscribers by access type - January 2015
      • Cable modem
        • Table Cable modem subscribers - 1999 - 2015
        • Table Broadband cable modem (HFC) subscribers by service provider - January 2015
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
        • Table DSL subscribers - 1999 - 2015
        • Table DSL subscribers by service provider - January 2015
      • Apartment LAN
        • Table A-LAN subscribers - 2002 - 2015
        • Table A-LAN subscribers by service provider - January 2015
      • Fibre-to-the-Home
        • Table FttH subscribers - 2006 - 2015
        • Table FttH subscribers by service provider - January 2015
    • WIRELESS BROADBAND
      • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)/Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)
      • WiBro
        • Table KT and SK Telecom WiBro subscribers - 2006 - 2014
        • Table Comparison of WiBro and mobile technologies in South Korea
      • Mobile broadband
    • VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL (VOIP)
      • Table South Korea VoIP subscribers by major operator and market share - September 2014
      • Table South Korea VoIP subscribers - 2006 - 2014
    • BROADBAND TV
      • Triple play background
      • Internet protocol TV (IPTV)
        • Table IPTV subscribers by operator - 2006 - 2015
  • DIGITAL MEDIA / DIGITAL ECONOMY
    • DIGITAL MEDIA
      • National television networks
      • Digital TV
      • Satellite TV
        • Table DTH subscribers - 2002 - 2015
      • Cable TV (CATV)
      • Broadcasting deregulation
      • Nationwide Terrestrial 3D Broadcast
      • TV Music Streaming
    • DIGITAL ECONOMY
      • E-commerce
        • Table E-commerce volume by transaction type - 2001 - 2013
        • Table Internet banking service subscribers - 2001 - 2013
        • Table Financial service by delivery channel - 2005 - 2013
      • E-government
        • Table Usage of e-government services - 2013
        • Table E-tax usage rates - 2002 - 2007
        • Table South Korea rankings in UN global e-government survey - 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012
      • E-entertainment
        • Table Online game market volume - 2002 - 2009
        • Table Digital music market volume - 2003 - 2009
        • Table Usage rates by types of social networking service - 2013
      • E-Learning
      • E-services
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW OF SOUTH KOREA'S MOBILE MARKET
    • BACKGROUND OF SOUTH KOREA'S MOBILE MARKET
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Mobile subscribers 1985 - 2016
        • Table Mobile subscribers - 1985 - 2016
      • Mobile subscribers by operator
        • Table Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator and technology - January 2015
        • Table Mobile operator market share - 2002 - 2016
        • Table Mobile subscribers by operator - 2002 - 2016
      • Mobile ARPU by operator
        • Table Mobile Service ARPU per month by operator - 2011 - 2014
    • FOURTH MOBILE OPERATOR TO ENTER MARKET?
      • KMI
      • Kbiz
    • MVNOS
      • Table MVNO subscribers by operator - 2012 - 2014
    • SPECTRUM AUCTIONS: 1.2GHZ, 1.8GHZ AND 800MHZ
    • ADDITIONAL SPECTRUM ALLOCATION
    • MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
      • Analogue (AMPS)
      • Personal Communication Service (PCS)
      • Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
        • Table CDMA mobile subscribers by operator - 2002 - 2013
      • Wideband CDMA (WCDMA)
        • Table WCDMA subscribers by operator - June 2013
      • LTE
        • Table LTE mobile subscribers by operator - 2011 - 2014
      • Voice over LTE (VoLTE)
      • LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)
      • Smartphones
        • Table Smart phone subscribers and market share - 2009 - 2012
        • Table Forecast smart phone and tablet PC subscribers and market share - 2010 - 2015
    • MOBILE DATA SERVICES
      • Table Monthly Traffic volume per phone type - 2012 - 2014
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Overview
      • M-commerce/m-payment
        • Table M-commerce transaction value - 2012 - 2015
        • Table Payment Gateway transaction value - 2012 - 2015
      • Mobile banking (m-banking)
        • Table Mobile banking service subscribers - 2003 - 2010
      • Mobile government (m-government)
      • Apps Stores
      • Mobile advertising
      • NFC chips in smartphones
      • Mobile TV
      • Mobile learning
      • OTT Voice
    • FORECAST:MOBILE SUBSCRIBERS 2014- 2016; 2019
      • Table Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration - lower band forecast - 2014 - 2016; 2019
      • Table Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration - higher band forecast - 2014 - 2016; 2019

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