SKT trials VoLTE service for submarines

Korean telecommunications giant SK Telecom said Thursday that it had a successful trial run of new sub-ocean voice-over LTE wireless service, or HD Voice service, for the first time in the nation’s history.

A successful test run of the service took place aboard the Seogwipo Submarine on Thursday, about 40 meters below sea level off the coast of Jeju Island, according to the company. The vessel has been providing outings for tourists since the late 1980s.

SK Telecom said it used an LTE transmitter and antenna attached to a flotation device, then connected it via cable to the submarine in order to connect it with Seogwipo Port and provide the service aboard the ocean craft. 

Also known as VoLTE, the service refers to a high-speed network that transmits data and allows users to place phone and even high-definition video calls at unprecedented speeds. Smartphone users can also access mobile apps and download video through the network.

For full article see Korea Herald.


Korea’s biotech companies increased 2011 R&D spending by 13%

Korea’s biotech companies have increased their research and development spending by 13 percent in 2011. According to a survey conducted jointly by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization on 100 biotech ventures in Korea, the companies have made a combined investment of 643.7 billion won last year, up 12.6 percent from the previous year.
In particular, the investment in the biosimilar and medical equipment areas has jumped 26.5 percent. The total output and employment within the industry have been 5,572.6 billion won (6.6%) and 17,352 (8.0%). 
The ministry and the industry association will make a larger-scale survey on 987 biotech companies and publish the results before the end of this year. In the meantime, the ministry will nurture the fledgling industry by providing crtical information on technology and market opportunities.

Mobile carriers eyeing non-core businesses

Though mobile carriers are seeing a rapid rise in long-term evolution (LTE) network subscribers, they are also anxious to earn revenues from what was hitherto considered out of their business areas.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have shown near same services in telecommunication business recently, all boasting a nationwide LTE network and all releasing voice over LTE (VoLTE, or making voice calls available on an LTE network).

Market saturation and the declining profits due to heavy investments on network building are now pushing companies to find a way to increase competitiveness by differentiating themselves from rivals, especially for the second half of this year.

SK Telecom, which announced 4 million LTE subscribers Sunday, wants its members to take a keen interest in its growing content.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korea needs to groom more top scientists and engineers: report

Aggressive efforts by many nations to recruit science and technology talent have put the spotlight on Korea’s own workforce. New industries like green energy, robotics, biomedicine, and nanotechnology will require highly skilled personnel, but Korea is coming up short in these promising areas. New initiatives like Korea’s “10,000 Plus Plan,” and investments in basic research are trying to address these gaps.

Developing new growth engines is an urgent priority for economies around the world. This is prompting more attention to grooming and acquiring elite science and technology (S&T) personnel. Advanced countries and emerging economies alike are mounting efforts to foster personnel that can lead the next-generation growth engines of their economy.

Technology powerhouses, including Japan and Germany, have emphasized home-grown talent. In Germany, the “High-Tech Strategy (Die Hightech-Strategie fur Deutschand)”1 adopted in 2005 seeks to nurture expertise in 17 emerging high-tech industries, including space technology and energy. In contrast, the US and Singapore are investing in attracting top-tier foreign talent. The “American Competitiveness Initiative”2 focuses on promoting high-risk, high-return research and expanding the labor pool for research and development (R&D).

Korea is shifting its hiring of S&T personnel from leaders who can drive a “catch-up” business model to leaders who can pursue a “frontier” strategy that leverages next-generation industries. Through this, Korea hopes to stay ahead of emerging market rivals like China on the value chain, while catching up with existing technology powerhouses.

For full report see SERI Quarterly.  Free subscription required.

To keep tech up, Samsung acquires

Samsung Electronics is buying more companies as part of its growth strategy and its attempt to keep up with technology. It acquired the mobile-technology business of U.K.-based Cambridge Silicon Radio PLC for $310 million on Tuesday, in its bid to ensure the company’s key manufacturing technology and patents related to mobile devices.

Samsung will obtain CSR’s handset connectivity and location technology, as well as 21 U.S. patents related to wireless technologies. “This acquisitions is the largest of a foreign company since the financial crisis in 1997,” said Woo Nam-sung, president of the Large Scale Integration division at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung is expected to provide a variety of features in handset connectivity.”

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Korean LTE users top 8.4 mln mark

The number of fourth-generation long-term evolution (LTE) network users in South Korea hit the 8.4 million mark with the figure expected to nearly double by year’s end, industry sources said Sunday.

Sources said SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile carrier, reported its 4 millionth subscriber on Friday, 44 days after it said user numbers reached 3 million. KT Corp., the country’s No. 2 mobile communication service provider, said it provided LTE service to 1.4 million users as of early last week, with the number growing steadily on a daily basis. LG Uplus Corp., South Korea’s smallest mobile carrier, said that people using its fourth-generation network should break the 3 million mark in a few days, as more and more people opt for the super-fast communications network that allows people to see movies with no lag time and download full-length movies in seconds.

For full article see Yonhap News.

Korea’s high-speed wireless Internet penetration tops 100 pct

South Korea’s high-speed wireless Internet penetration rate has topped the 100 percent mark for the first time among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a report showed Sunday.

The penetration rate of high-speed wireless Internet service in South Korea amounted to 100.6 percent as of the end of last year, the highest among the 34 members of the Paris-based club of advanced economies, according to the OECD report. The figure represents a sharp increase from 89.8 percent from a year earlier and is nearly double the average OECD average of 54.3 percent. High-speed wireless Internet services include those provided by third-generation and fourth-generation smartphones, the wireless broadband (WiBro) and wireless fidelity (WiFi).

For full article see Yonhap News.

Samsung Display boosts investment in OLED business

South Korea’s Samsung Display is on track to make additional investments in the organic light-emitting display (OLED) panels. Such decision comes after its tech affiliate Samsung Electronics achieved strong sales in the Galaxy smartphone series. Samsung Display decided to fuel investments in OLED production and expand new manufacturing lines in an effort to meet the rising demand for OLED panels upon growing popularity of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy smartphones.

Samsung Display will place an order for equipments that are needed to expand 5.5th-generation (1300 X1500 mm) OLED panel manufacturing lines (A2) at its plant located in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, during the third quarter (Q3) this year, according to sources in the electronics industry Thursday.

Samsung Display already installed OLED panel manufacturing equipment, which was commissioned last year, at the P3 manufacturing line in its Asan plant and completed expansion of the P3 production line in the first half (H1) of this year. By expanding the P3 line, Samsung’s Asan plant secured monthly output of 70,000 units of OLED display panels. Samsung also has a 4.5th-generation OLED panel manufacturing line (A1) in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.

For full article see Maeil Business.

Will rivals wilt in Samsung’s long shadow?


Samsung Electronics controls 60 percent of the domestic mobile phone market, a record-high share that may keep growing given the success of its recently released Galaxy S3.

This has stoked concern that the company’s quasi-monopoly could squeeze smaller domestic players, causing them to discard unpopular models and shy away from gambling on innovative new releases in a trend that threatens to kill market diversity.

“Consumers tend to get used to a company’s mobile user interface, which naturally leads them to keep buying the same company’s products,” said Park Kyung-hoon, a programmer who creates mobile apps.

Samsung’s dominance was helped by the fact that LG Electronics was a late entrant into the smartphone industry. It has been striving to redress this by forging ahead with its next-generation long-term evolution (LTE) service, but it is still playing catch-up.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Chemical firms piggyback autos

Korea’s thriving IT and automobile industries have served as life-savers for struggling chemical firms in the second quarter by feeding them much-needed business, according to local companies.

SK Chemicals said yesterday the automobile sector is becoming an alternative market for chemical firms at a sluggish time in the industry.

The company said its sales of chemical materials for vehicles jumped by 15 percent on-year to 21.7 billion won ($19 million).

It saw sales of Skynova, a sound-absorbing material used in the floor of cars and as an engine cover, grow by more than 30 percent on-year, the company said. Overseas sales accounted for 60 percent of the material’s total revenues, which stood at 14.8 billion won in Q2.

For full article see Joongang Daily.