Wednesday, December 31, 2008

South Korea - pumping up the sector

South Korea boosts telecom sector with a US$5.4 billion budget

South Korea plans to spend 6.88 trillion won (US$5.4 billion) in 2009 to help spur the country's telecommunications sector. The country’s regulator, Korea Communications Commission (KCC) indicated it will spend 56 percent of the budget in the January-June period geared towards helping service providers develop next generation telecom services and to buy new equipment.

In recent policy decisions, the KCC demonstrated its flexibility to loosen software requirements for imported handsets used domestically. It reversed an earlier ruling rescinding the requirement for locally developed software, known as Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability (WIPI), to be incorporated into such devices. This is a significant step in opening up the local market from April 2009 to international brands such as Google’s Android phone, Apple’s iPhone and other smart phones. The regulator has already made an exception for Blackberry devices for SK Telecom to introduce them in December.

Another major policy announcement involves a decision to allow companies to offer mobile services over the wireless Internet using the Wireless Broadband (WiBro)-based platform. WiBro is Korea's home-grown third generation communication technology which has been adopted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It paves the way for unfettered communication for users on-the-move and is understood to be a Korean version of WiMAX, a similar standard developed by Intel. Korean developers say both standards will be fully interoperable by the end of 2008.

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