South Korea ranked first in the 2010 United Nations Global E-Government Survey. The achievement bears great significance as it is expected to serve as the starting point of globalising South Korea’s e-government expertise. The country’s advanced IT systems and the government’s strong commitment to the IT industry have converged to build the most efficient e-government system available.
Fixed-mobile convergence opportunities have accelerated. During 2009 and 2010 KT merged with KT Freetel; LG Telecom merged in the operations of LG Dacom and LG Powercom; and SK Telecom and SK Broadband exhibited strong ownership ties creating, in effect, a third full-services operator. These new market dynamics are coupled with plans by South Korea to inject up to KRW1.7 trillion (US$1.4 billion) in the next five years in a bid to become one of the top five leaders in the information technology convergence sector.
South Korea has the world’s highest number of broadband services per capita and focussed on its Next Generation Networks Broadband Convergence Network project between 2005 and 2010. Not content with meeting the Broadband Convergence Network goal, the government set a new target under the Ultra-Broadband Convergence Network plan set to run between 2009 and 2013. This included further increases in broadband subscribers having access speeds of over 1Gb/s. In addition to upgrades to the backbone network a plan was established to link the public sector to a sensor network by 2012.
Over 100% of South Koreans have at least one mobile phone. The three main mobile operators are SK Telecom, KT and LG UPlus. By mid-2010, SK Telecom held just over 50% of the mobile market, KTF about 30% and LG Telecom almost 20%, levels that had remained relatively unchanged over a five-year period. South Korea is considered a leader in 3G mobile technology and KT has taken the lead in having 85% of its subscriber base using WCDMA.
The country’s fixed-line telephone market continues to be dominated by the incumbent KT Corp although VoIP services have become popular. The South Korean Government is committed to transitioning the country to digital terrestrial, digital cable and digital satellite TV broadcasting by 2012. The pressure created by convergence had South Korea rewrite its regulatory arrangements for the broadcasting and communications sector.
By contrast, the development of the telecoms sector in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is seriously impeded. North Korea’s obsession with secrecy has made it extremely difficult to get a clear picture of the sector. Despite this, North Korea has proceeded with mobile communications through a single operator owned by Orascom Telecom Holding of Egypt and state-owned Korea Post and Telecoms Corporation. Subscriber levels remain extremely low.
For detailed information, table of contents and pricing of this new BuddeComm report : South Korea – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts.