Over 2.5 Million Mobile WiMAX Users in South Korea by 2011

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According to the latest ROA Group report the number of mobile WiMAX users in South Korea will increase to more than 2.5 million by 2011. The market revenues are also expected to increase to KRW65 billion (USD627 million) by 2011.

Mobile WiMAX, called WiBro in Korea, was commercially launched in the country two years ago, on June 30, 2006, but due to insufficient CAPEX investment, resulting in poor service coverage and device line-up, the subscriber growth was slow, until KT started strong marketing strategies to attract subscribers in early 2007. The subscribers increased 5,600 in April 2007 to 106,000 in December 2007. In 2008, the subscribers are increasing by about 10,000 per month. In addition, KT and SKT, the two mobile WiMAX operators in Korea, have decided to expand their investment from 2008, and the mobile WiMAX market is expected to grow faster.

Moreover, the availability of VoIP will have a significant influence on subscriber addition. Currently, the biggest disadvantage with WiBro service is that it fails to provide a killer application. To become a 4G mobile technology, voice support is a must for WiBro and a necessary element for competing with HSDPA and its next generation version, LTE in 3G/4G mobile market, says Ku Kang, analyst at ROA Group.

To improve the service expansion, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in Korea is developing NeMA (New Mobile Access), an upgraded version of WiBro. NeMA is a technology for the users who move at a high speed; at 100Mbps while moving at the maximum of 120km/h. In 2007 ETRI developed NoLA, which is LAN-based technology for the users who move at low speeds. ETRI plans to combine these two technologies and if it succeeds, the Korean market could witness next year a service that allows the users to use Internet in a moving vehicle on the highway.

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Tags: mobile wimax  voip  capex  lte  wimax,  kt  etri  wibro 

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