IPTV in Korea, an update

Korea Communications Commission (KCC) is now one year old, and IPTV eventually gaining ground.

Korea's 3 IP operators totalled 595,000 IPTV subs at the end of July 2009. They're still dwarfed by cablecos (ie CJ Hello Vision boasts about 800,000 cable TV subs, C&M 700,000), but they gained 26% in one month and 58% over the past two months. And cablecos are feeling the heat as IP players plan to extend the technological wars into new territories.

As we saw earlier*, Korea's 3 IPTV players are also Korea's 3 MNOs. They cannot market VoIP as aggressively as they'd like to, nor propose as wide a choice of TV channels as cablecos, but they keep extending their TV offers, and their triple play offers are claiming new converts.

With 22% of the IPTV market, SK Broadband (SK Telecom) is still lagging behind Qook (KT/KTF, 46%) and LG Dacom (LG Telecom, 32% MS), but it led the small pack with a 35% market share for July and at such a pace, positions could very much change dramatically before the end of the year.

KT intends to remain confortably at the top, and will put more pressure on its competitors by pushing voice over WiBro.

Stuck with cdma2000 for 3G, LG Telecom is speeding up the preparation of LTE (announced for 2013), with the help of its cousin LG Electronics, who will provide NTT DoCoMo with "4G" chips as early as next year for the first LTE devices. LG Telecom can also count on Qualcomm to quicken the transition from cdma2000 to LTE.

In partnership with the National Information Society Agency (NIA), KCC recently announced "Giga Internet" service trials for 2,000 households by the end of 2012. The idea is to lift Korea Inc from the 100M "standard" to 1 Giga all the way across the value chain, with new networks, new devices, and new IPTV services (3D, multi-angle, HD Home CCTV, TV multimedia messenger...). One consortium will be led by KT (the leading "telco") and the other by CJ Hello Vision (the leading "cableco").

Concentration seems bound to accelerate. Most Korea Cable Television and Telecommunications Association (KCTA) operators are not fitted for this kind of race, and some players may be up for grabs for powerful new entrants : controversial new media laws allow press groups and conglomerates to invest in broadcasting, and not all of them may be satisfied with a partner's seat.

mot-bile 2009

* see "
One stop selling", "IPTV wars and WiBro truce", "IPTV in Korea"

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