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UN E-Government Survey in the News  
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Convergence in South Korea is poised to accelerate the ‘need for speed’ to 2015
Source: BuddeBlog, http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/convergence-in-south-korea-is-poised-to-accelerate-the-need-for-speed-to-2015/
Source Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Republic of Korea
Created: Aug 24, 2010

The market is supported by a visionary government programme of stimulating development through liberalisation, deregulation and early privatisation of the incumbent, a creative and energetic private sector and a technology savvy population.

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.

Market highlights:

  • In early 2010 KT Freetel was merged into KT, making the company a full-services operator. The company launched its fixed-mobile convergence service called ‘alleh’, combining mobile and Internet phone functions on one handset.
  • SK Telecom aimed to become a ‘leading global ICT company’ through: embedding intelligence in software development and super-computing technologies; establishing seamless mutual connections by connecting mobile, fixed, local, and long distance networks; strengthening functions of facilities/equipment/products by using transistors, sensors and RFID tags.
  • LG Telecom officially changed its corporate identity to LG U+ in 2010 after merging its operations to become a full-services operator.
  • In early 2010, fibre technology accounted for 65% of all broadband subscribers in South Korea. The country had the seventh largest broadband subscriber base in the world and over 16 million broadband subscribers compared to Japan at 30 million and China at 105 million.
  • South Korea plans to build a ‘smart grid’ pilot complex by 2011 to enhance the country’s ability to use renewable energy. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the KRW27.5 trillion (US$24 billion) nationwide smart grid will support nearly 30,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.
  • The government intends to spend KRW12 billion by 2011 on IPTV content development alone. KT planned to invest a further KRW350 billion in its IPTV network, while SK Broadband and LG Telecom planned for investments of KRW260 billion and KRW250 billion respectively.
  • Green measures planned include promoting teleconferencing, as well as using broadband technology and the Global Positioning System to reduce traffic congestion. 

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing of this new BuddeComm report : South Korea – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts.

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