South Korea's Operators Focus on Network Expansion as Smartphones Drive Revenue, Pyramid Finds

Sep 14, 2010

South Korea's $5.1 billion mobile data market is expected to nearly double in size, generating $9.0 billion by 2015, putting the issue of network upgrades at the top of the agenda for mobile operators, according to a new report from Pyramid Research (

South Korea: Smartphones to Drive Revenue Growth for Network Operators offers a precise profile of the country's telecommunications, media, and technology sectors based on proprietary data from our research in the market. It provides detailed competitive analysis of both the fixed and mobile sectors, tracks the market shares of technologies and services, and monitors the introduction and spread of new technologies.

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"With the increased proliferation of smartphones, such as the iPhone, consumer habits are quickly changing in South Korea," notes Tae-hyung Kim, Senior Analyst at Pyramid. "The rising adoption of smartphones and the accompanying increase in demand for mobile data access has put the issue of network upgrades front and center for mobile operators."

"Both SK Telecom and KT have revised their plans regarding LTE, with SK Telecom taking a more aggressive stance," Kim says. "It plans to commercialize LTE services in 2011 with datacards and with mobile handsets in 2012; KT, on the other hand, will continue to upgrade to HSPA+ and seek to roll out LTE, but will also try to leverage its WiBro and WiFi networks to offload as much data traffic as possible to lessen the strain on its mobile network," he adds.

"While rushing into LTE has some advantages, such as achieving technological leader status, demand for LTE will be limited until there is a large enough portfolio of handsets that have been tested and proved in the market," Kim explains. "This is especially the case in markets, such as South Korea, where demand for mobile broadband via laptops is low. Instead, improving the capacity of the WCDMA network by upgrading to HSPA+, as well as expanding the network coverage to 2G levels will prove to be far more beneficial."

Ample opportunities also exist for network equipment vendors as all three operators (SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+) are increasing their efforts in network expansion, to accommodate the increasing appetite for mobile data services.

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SOURCE: Pyramid Research

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