Samsung Electronics said Monday it has started mass producing the world’s first 14-nanometer mobile application processor. It hopes the latest chip technology will give the Korean tech giant a competitive edge over rivals such as U.S.-based Qualcomm. According to the company, Samsung’s new Exynos 7 Octa has 20 percent more processing power and spends 35 percent less electricity than 20-nanometer processors that have thus far been widely used in the mobile chip market. The latest chip technology also features a three-dimensional transistor design, known as the FinFET, unlike the conventional flat chip design, it added.
“Samsung’s advanced 14nm FinFET process technology is undoubtedly the most advanced logic process technology in the industry,” said Han Gab-soo, executive vice president of Samsung’s system LSI business in a press release. “We expect the production of our 14nm mobile AP to positively impact the growth of the mobile industry by enabling further performance improvements for cutting-edge smartphones.”
There is now intense competition between global communications equipment suppliers Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent for the national disaster safety communications network project, which will be the first trial of its kind in the world. The winner of the government project of South Korea, which is an IT powerhouse, will be recognized for its technologies. Moreover, major countries like the U.S., the U.K., and Canada are planning to build a disaster safety communications network using Public Safety-LTE (PS-LTE), which was already adopted by Korea. Therefore, the reason for fierce competition seems to lie in the belief that it could be a test-bed for the suppliers’ capabilities in the PS-LTE market, which is still at early stage, to win the order of the Korean project.
According to sources in the government and communications industry on Jan. 25, the national disaster safety communications network project is estimated to be worth 2 trillion won (US$1.85 billion). However, the size of the project is expected to increase to more than 3 trillion won (US$2.8 billion) if 10 year-maintenance costs are included. So competition between global communications equipment suppliers for the project is heating up.
The local market for mobile advertisements is anticipated to top the 1-trillion won ($928 million) mark in 2015, a report showed Monday, as people spend more time on smartphones compared to traditional PCs. South Korea’s market for mobile advertisements is estimated to rise 27 percent on-year to reach 1.06 trillion won this year, according to the report released by market researcher DMC Media. The market expanded 74.1 percent on-year to reach 832.9 billion won in 2014.
The researcher said the growth is attributable to the rising number of smartphone users, while people are spending less time using computers. “Mobile messengers’ earnings will also improve, as they will roll out various payment-related services other than mobile games, which have been considered as traditional cash cows,” DMC Media said. “Other global messenger providers will also expand their revenue from advertisements on the back of their mobile platforms.”
The three local mobile carriers are diversifying their business portfolios amid saturation of the domestic mobile telecom market.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are likely to strengthen their focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), one of the major new growth engines for the telecom industry. SK Telecom, the nation’s largest mobile carrier, said it is looking to three new businesses ― media, healthcare and business-to-business (B2B) including the IoT ― in the coming years.
KT, the nation’s largest fixed-line operator, plans to continue its five key new businesses ― smart energy, integrated security systems, media, healthcare and intelligent traffic control. Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu pledged to foster the five segments.
LG Uplus, the nation’s smallest telecom firm, said it will expand its effort to take the next step from its existing telecom businesses. In an end of year press conference on Dec. 5, Vice Chairman Lee Sang-chul emphasized that “now is the tipping point to cope with the biggest changes the world’s information and communication technology industry has seen so far.”
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said yesterday the number of altteul, or thrifty, phones in use nearly doubled in a year to 2.48 million as of Dec. 31. Thrifty phones now account for 4.55 percent of the mobile phone market. The altteul phone service (MVNO) provides affordable mobile communications services by borrowing radio wave spectrums from conventional mobile networks.
The growth in altteul subscribers was most pronounced in the fourth quarter, when the thrifty smartphones started selling at post offices and at E-Mart.The 12 altteul phone businesses that provide service by borrowing from KT’s network had 1.165 million subscribers, while the nine operators borrowing from SK Telecom attracted 1.036. Seven businesses that borrowed from LG U+ had 280,000.
However, the highest growth rate of 162 percent was seen in SK affiliates, which went from 394,000 subscribers to 11.036 million. This was followed by 77 percent for KT affiliates, from 657,000 to 1.165 million, and 29 percent for LG U+ affiliates, which saw subscribers rise from 215,000 to 280,000. Meanwhile, revenue for altteul phone operators for 2013 shot up 107 percent form 119 billion won ($111.9 million) in 2012 to 247.4 billion won last year. Sales of altteul phone devices were 378.3 billion won in 2013.
South Korea’s wireless date traffic jumped at a faster clip in a year as 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service has become widely available. Notably, the share of data traffic through the LTE service surpassed 50 percent of the total.
The total wireless data traffic grew from 29,748 terabytes (TB) in January 2012, 41,985 TB in June to 47,581 TB, according to a recent data released by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The number went up 196 percent on-year to reach as high as 58,262 TB in January.
The figure includes traffic on the second generation (2G) Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), 3G Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and 4G LTE, offered by telecom operators. The number excluded data traffic on the WiFi service as it is an option relative to other forms of wireless services.
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.
Korean game developers are rushing to make games for mobile phones. In the United States the dominating game platform has been consoles, whereas in Korea the desktop computer has reigned supreme for over a decade due to the prevalence of Internet cafes beginning in the late 1990s.
According to the Korea Communications Commission, there will be 30 million smartphone users by the end of August and this number will continue to increase.Major game makers Nexon and NCsoft are adjusting their focus to reflect the changes in people’s lifestyles that now revolve around wireless devices.
NCsoft, known for popular online role-playing titles such as Lineage and Aion, started investing in mobile projects even before the dawn of smartphones in 2008. The prior services were mostly supplementary features to games, but the company is at present creating a new game specifically for wireless devices, said an NCsoft spokesman.
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).
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.