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Seoul to Launch World's 1st Mobile Internet Service

clock03-11-2010, 08:32 PM
Yorum: #1
Seoul to launch first mobile Internet service

SEOUL - The launch of the world's first mobile Internet service this week is expected to change people's daily lives as it liberates South Koreans from restraints on logging on to the Internet and prompts a move toward what is called the "ubiquitous era" of networking anywhere at any time, experts said.

Industry observers also predict the service will emerge as a new revenue source for the local communications sector at at time when it is facing market saturation.

KT Corp, South Korea's largest fixed-line and broadband operator, will commence the first commercial service of mobile broadband Internet, called WiBro, on Thursday.

The service will be introduced initially in the Seoul metropolitan area before being expanded into major cities across the country by the end of 2008, KT's spokesman said.

WiBro, a domestic technology based on Intel Corp.'s wireless Internet technology WiMAX, enables users to log on to the broadband Internet even when they are on the move at a speed of up to 120 km/h.

South Korea is one of the information technology superpowers in the world, where one out of four households has access to the fixed-line Internet and nearly 80% of the nation's population carry a mobile phone.

"WiBro will liberate us from the restraints posed by where we are," said Lim Tae-yoon, an analyst at Samsung Economic Research Institute.

Earlier last year, the Ministry of Information and Communication selected local communications companies KT, SK Telecom Co, and Hanarotelecom Inc. to lead the WiBro business.

Hanarotelecom withdrew its bid later to focus on its fixed-line Internet business. SK Telecom, the nation's largest mobile service operator, plans to unveil its service on Friday, its spokesman said.

The first commercial service would come months after KT held a trial run of WiBro in some selected areas in and around the Seoul metropolitan area that started in March. It also conducted a trial operation for global leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held in Busan last November.

KT, a former state monopoly that was fully privatized in 2002, said it spent more than 150 billion won on WiBro last year and seeks to invest up to 500 billion won on the mobile Internet service this year alone.

At a time when the local mobile communications market here is facing saturation and mobile carriers and other communications operators are busy seeking new source of revenue, the WiBro market is regarded as one of new potential growth engines for the local communications sector.

KT expects that WiBro would attract as many as eight million subscribers by the end of 2011, and aims to achieve sales of 1.2 trillion won (US$1.25 billion) by 2010.

"At first, the demand will come mainly from those in their teens, 20s and 30s, who are more exposed to the Internet environment in their daily life," KT said in a statement. "But the customer base will be expanded further to those who want to enhance their business efficiency or increase business performance through the mobile Internet."

KT is expected to offer a usage-based service for WiBro in which customers are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis. Experts estimate that the minimal monthly fee that customers have to pay would be more than 30,000 won, higher than what they pay every month for a fixed-line Internet service.

Some market observers worry that it would increase the overall communications costs for South Koreans, who already feel burdened by paying a lot for a variety of services for their household Internet and mobile handsets.

Kim Dong-jun, an analyst at Goodmorning Shinhan Securities Co., said however that the more important factor for the success of WiBro would be attractive applications rather than how much a customer should pay for the service.

"If one plus one equals two in charging rates for communications services, it would be a huge burden to customers. It should be lower than that to attract new customers. By providing bundled services, the overall communications cost could be lowered enough to appeal to customers," Kim said.

"What should come first is to provide killer applications for WiBro to succeed. I believe WiBro, which is an opened-ended service in which a wide range of contents can converge, will succeed in the end," he added.

However, Kim cautioned that KT and SK Telecom, which promised to launch WiBro in June this year when they were chosen as service operators, might not be prepared enough to provide high-quality mobile Internet to their customers.

(Asia Pulse/Yonhap)
clock07-07-2012, 05:03 PM
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