Korean carriers to vie for 1.8GHz frequency band

Korea’s telecommunication industry is expected to see another “cash war’’ as the top regulator plans an additional spectrum auction amid fierce rivalry for fourth-generation (4G) Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

The Korea Communication Commission (KCC) said that it will auction the license for the 1.8 gigahertz (GHz) and 2.6 GHz LTE spectrum bands, respectively, in March at the earliest. KT, LG and SK Telecom have all said they will bid in the auction. And attention is being paid to which company will get the license, especially the 1.8 GHz band one, which is regarded as the “golden spectrum.’’ More than 42 international mobile carriers are offering their LTE services within that radio frequency.

Currently, KT is using the 1.8 GHz as its main frequency to service its nationwide LTE networks, while the market leader SK Telecom is using the frequency as a secondary position.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Carriers see savior in LTE-Advanced

Although mobile carriers have heavily invested in and are promoting long-term evolution (LTE), they are already preparing to offer an upgraded connection called LTE-Advanced. According to industry officials Tuesday, the double woes of a ban on signing up new customers imposed by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) on SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus for giving illegal subsidies and a stalling subscription rate are forcing the firms to launch LTE-Advanced quicker than expected.

The upgraded version boasts a download speed of up to 150 megabytes per second, double that of the current LTE’s speed of 75.

Though the carriers have touted LTE as being a fourth-generation (4G) service it does not meet the International Telecommunication Union’s 4G standard of 100 megabytes per second. Considering that the current LTE averages are between 30 to 70 megabytes per second, LTE-Advanced, should be truly, 4G.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Free video-to-mobile goes into the black

After a promising start seven years ago, two types of digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) – which enable handheld device owners to watch TV on the road – are facing contrasting destinies.

Whereas operators of the free terrestrial DMB, based on over-the-air signals, are enjoying unprecedented prosperity, satellite DMB service – which charged people for programs – is set to shut down at the end of this month amid ever-increasing debts. Satellite DMB is based on videos beamed from a communication satellite.

Recent data from the Korea Communications Commission, successor to the Ministry of Information and Communication, show that terrestrial DMB service operators have “almost offset accumulated debt by increased revenue” in the fiscal year of 2011.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

KCC plan does little to calm net neutrality debate

Network neutrality has become the center of debate in Korea as the state telecom regulator last Friday released its draft plan on how to use and control communication networks.

While the plan itself did not satisfy any of those involved in the debate, many say the Korea Communications Commission has given the upper hand to the country’s three telecom operators.

Network neutrality refers to the principle that the Internet should be kept open with the users having the freedom to choose any applications they want to use without restrictions or limitations set by their Internet service providers.

With the issue already a hot topic globally, the country’s telecoms say Internet application service providers like smart TV maker Samsung Electronics and mobile messenger firm Kakao must also contribute to network infrastructure investment.

For full article see Korea Herald.

KCC allows carriers to limit access for internet calls

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) announced Friday that it will allow mobile carriers to block access to free Internet calls among other services if deemed necessary.

The nation’s top telecommunications regulator revealed new guidelines for the rational use and management of networks, which states that carriers may control network traffic if it becomes necessary to prevent a data explosion.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will be allowed to control the amount of access users have, which depends on varying monthly packages, to Kakao Talks’ mobile voice over Internet protocol service among others.

For full article see Korea Times.

Smartphones reshape retail landscape

The growing use of smartphones has entirely changed lifestyles in the 21st century, expanding to online shopping and changing the landscape of the retail industry.

According to data from the Korea Online Shopping Association (KOLSA), monetary transactions via mobile online shopping totaled 3 billion won in 2009 when there were only 750,000 smartphones users at the time.

But the numbers have surged since then: in 2010, transactions amounted to 14 billion won from 7.18 million users. Last year, the “market” grew to 200 billion won with 22.8 million people using the devices.

This year, KOLSA expects 34.8 million Koreans will be using smartphones and shop via the device with the amount of monetary transactions exceeding 600 billion won.

The report also states that the online shopping market grew 17 percent last year and will increase by 13 percent this year. The organization said Korea’s overall online shopping market was valued at 39.4 trillion won in 2011, and expects new revenue pipelines for firms via the new mobile platform.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korea to launch pilot project for 1Gbps internet connections

The South Korean government has selected KT consortium, SK Telecom consortium, LG Uplus consortium, CJ HelloVision consortium, and T-Broad as operators of a pilot project for 1Gbps (gigabit per second) internet connections. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and National Information Society Agency (NIA) announced Thursday they signed contracts with the operators chosen to undertake the pilot project for 1Gbps web connections Thursday.

The 1Gbps internet, also known as the “Giga internet” in Korea, is a technology that makes internet connections 10 times faster than the existing 100Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connections. This year, SK consortium and T-Broad were newly added to the list of pilot project participants which initially consisted of KT, LG Uplus, and CJ HelloVision consortiums selected last year.

“A total of 5.6 billion won ($4.95 million) including a 2.7 billion won government subsidy will be injected to the pilot project for the Giga internet,” a KCC official said. “The operators will be initially providing 5,500 households with 1Gbps internet connections. The Korean government will gain speed in expanding commercialization of the Giga internet within this year”.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

High-speed growth of Korea

The Korean ICT industry developed into a global industry from scratch in just two decades. Korea now has world-class ICT infrastructure such as broadband Internet and mobile communications.

It came as no surprise that Korea was ranked No. 1 among 152 countries surveyed in the ICT Development Index announced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), announced in end of 2011. The index compares and analyzes the level of ICT development of ITU member countries. It is aimed at assessing ICT development routes, digital gaps and growth potentials of each country.
In the latest index, Korea and Sweden were ranked the first and second respectively followed by Iceland, Denmark and Finland. The U.K. and U.S. were ranked at the 10th and 17th positions respectively, while Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore were ranked 6th, 13th and 19th respectively. As such, only four Asian countries including Korea were ranked among the top 20.

The ICT Development Index assesses ICT development in three categories: accessibility, use and competency. Korea was ranked the world’s No. 1 in the ICT use category and also produced outstanding results in the competency (2nd) and accessibility (10th) categories. By sub-index, Korea is ranked high in terms of percentage of households with Internet access (1st), count of wireless broadband service subscribers (1st) and count of wired broadband service subscribers (4th).

With the objective results announced, the Korean government’s efforts over the years to improve its broadcasting and communications regulatory environment and to promote policies to advance IT infrastructure appear to have been substantiated.

In what follows we take a brief look at the telecom and broadband policies that have enabled Korea this level of competence.

For full article see Infomag of EUCCK.