SK Telecom's Semestrus Horribilis

The light at the end of the tunnel ?

Starting August 8, Hanarotelecom will offer quad play bundles featuring synergies with its new owner SK Telecom (probably under the SK Broadband brand). Telemarketing operations, suspended following a scandal over personal information leaks, are to resume August 11.

When SKT integrated it last February 22, Hanarotelecom claimed a 24.6% market share for broadband internet subscriptions (3.6M, 1M of which FTTH : 100Mbps optical LAN network coverning over 12M households), and 8.9% for fixed telephony (2M lines).

SKT paid a dear price for this, not to mention a few obligation imposed by the regulator (to open their mobile internet gates beyond Nate, to share access to their 800MHz frequencies, to invest massively in suburban networks...), and legal consequences of the personal information scandal. SKT considers suing former shareholders Newbridge and AIG for not mentioning this practice :
Hanarotelecom has been massively losing customers (even on the booming IPTV market : Hana TV has lost 50,000 customers over H1 2008 while KT's Mega TV gained 220,000 and myLGtv 70,000), thousands are filing for a class action suit, and even more through direct channels.

After a first half of 2008 which saw local rivals KTF and LG Telecom revive, US rival Virgin absorb Helio, and such brands as TU media and T struggle, SK Telecom has an opportunity to redeem itself, provided it delivers the goods and wages the convergence wars as a respectful leader.

A disruptive move would be to boost VoIP on a market that lags behind many others, to the risk of endangering voice revenues even in the mobile business. It's time to leverage on SKT's already multiplatform services and to restore some of the brand's fun factor.

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