20100715

VoIP over 3G, unlimited data... SK Telecom victim of the summerheat wave ?

SK Telecom is lobbying in favor of a more open regulation for mobile Voice over IP in Korea : instead of being only legal on Wi-Fi, it would be authorized on 3G as well. SKT would then provide the service through Skype-like solutions - actually, I wouldn't be surprised to see some Google inside (see "Gizmo5 found its Google Voice"), and consumers would only pay for the data (not to mention fees from the app provider).

OK OK. There's a catch : data rates are pretty expensive in Korea.

Well, not so much now : SK Telecom also announced an unlimited data plan for all subs with a data package of over KRW 55,000 (about USD 45) per month. That would be for smartphone holders, but as far as I know, you can use your smartphone as a modem for greedier devices.

Alright. Here is a small operator struggling for market share, desperate to win big customers, and not worried about network capacity.

Wait a minute. SKT is by far the leader of Korea's (saturated) market, with about 51% of the pie. SKT does not sell iPhones like AT&T, whose success with Apple forced a spectacular backpedaling on unlimited data plans, but SKT is doing pretty well with Samsung Galaxy S (over 300,000 units sold for this Android handset in Korea). Its position doesn't seem that much threatened in the short term.

But what looks like a desperate defensive move following data rate cuts by competitors is also an aggressive move on convergence / quadplay offers (or is it pentaplay, now that the battle rages on wi-fi hotspots ?). Voice ? A commodity, sooner than later - losing a big customer altogether would cost me much more. And guess what ? Ultra-Broadband Convergence Network (UBcN) is around the corner (that's to say 2013 but blocks are bigger around here).

Still, unlimited data plans are a very risky bet in "ubiquitous Korea".


mot-bile 2010



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