Korea’s total number of broadband subscribers is estimated to have reached 92 percent of the nation’s 15.4 million households as of December 2008 and therefore, service providers are planning for more innovative and interactive convergence services through wireless broadband service and Internet protocol television (IPTV).
Wireless Internet access service in Korea can be categorized into two major services; fixed wireless Internet (WLAN) based on WiFi or WiMax technology, and mobile Internet based on code division multiple access (CDMA) and Wideband CDMA technologies. “Mobile Wimax,” or ‘Wireless Broadband’ (WiBro), service was commercialized in June 2006 by KT and SK Telecom using the 2.3 GHz spectrum with limited coverage in Seoul.
In December 2008, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) authorized Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service on WiBro and allocated a ‘010’ call prefix to allow competition with existing mobile phone services. WiBro is now expected to trigger new demand from consumers along with IPTV and become the foundation of “Ubiquitous- Korea,” a seamless and Giga bit per second (Gbps) speed Internet access/communication environment planned by the Korean government in cooperation with industry by 2013.
WiBro technology is part of the IEEE802.16 family of wireless Internet specifications, Wimax, and is expected to offer up to 5-15 Mbps bandwidth to mobile devices traveling at over 60 kilometers per hour (about 37 miles per hour). Major local companies, including Samsung, LG, and PosData, as well as the Electronic Technology Research Institute (ETRI), Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE)-sponsored R&D think tank, are developing a new standard with the help of the Telecom Technology Association (TTA). The development includes the evaluation and adaptation of different types of foreign and local technologies in conjunction with all IP-based 4G network. MKE plans to make at least 20 percent of the technology homegrown in order to minimize the payment of licensing fees to foreign firms. This aggressive agenda calls for immediate R&D and infrastructure investment for new WiBro technologies by foreign companies since the Korean government has realized the importance of global standardization in order to export new technologies.
Korea’s leadership in wireless communications and broadband Internet access services will continue in 2009 and spawn tremendous demand for all types of equipment, contents, and solutions, especially for specialized and innovative technologies, providing opportunities for sales of advanced and highly specialized U.S. telecommunications equipment, solutions, and content.
Best Products and Services
- WiBro Technology and wireless VoIP services
- Ultra Broadband convergence Network (UBCN) and 4G technology
- Internet Protocol (IP) TV Technology
Market demand for WiBro services should drive investment in the telecoms sector for the next five years. Nationwide infrastructure installation for WiBro targeting 2013 will begin in addition to more “killer applications” and relevant services, including, wireless VoIP, triple play services (TPS), Internet protocol TV, and mobile IPTV, that are expected to be driven by KT and SK Telecom.
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) plans to invest USD 1 billion to deploy an all-IP based Ultra Broadband convergence Network (UBcN) by 2013, which will support up to 1Gbps for wireline and 10Mbps for wireless services and act as a bridge to 4G service. KCC ambitiously forecasts that the private sector will invest as much as USD 30 billion during the same period boosting the Korean high-tech economy.