(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Korean Wireless Subscribers Drop Pagers For Cellular Phones
August 3, 1998 (SEOUL) -- Korea's wireless subscribers are giving up
pagers for mobile phones including personal communication service (PCS)
terminals, and more people are going online.
|A survey by the Ministry of Information and Communication found that
the number of subscribers to the country's five cellular providers reached
10.18 million at the end of June, up 4.4 percent from a month earlier.
The five cellular providers are SK Telecom Co., Shinsegi Telecomm Inc.,
Korea Freetel, LG Telecom Co. and Hansol Telecom Co.
The number of fixed-line subscriptions slipped 0.3 percent to 20.21 million
circuits between May and June with many corporate customers canceling
their subscriptions due to bankruptcies. The two largest fixed-line
carriers -- Korea Telecom and Dacom Corp. -- have seen their revenues
shrink in recent months.
The popularity of Internet telephony, which makes international calls
more than 50 percent less expensive, is also eating away at their revenues.
On the other hand, cancellations of paging services continued to accelerate,
apparently marking an end to the boom in the paging industry, the ministry
The number of paging subscriptions fell 3.3 percent to 13.11 million
in June from a month earlier. In the first half of this year, 4.67 million
cancellations were reported, compared with 5.14 million in all of 1997.
Some 33 percent of pager users who canceled their subscriptions shifted
to mobile phones.
"There has been a change in the pattern of demand for paging services
with the increasing popularity of mobile phones," a ministry official
The slump in fixed-line and paging businesses is adding fuel to the ongoing
industry restructuring. Job cuts and downsizing have become routine
for the companies involved.
As of the end of June, SK Telecom held 50.5 percent of the mobile telecom
market, including nearly 1 million subscribers to its analog cellular
services, followed by Shinsegi Telecomm with 15.1 percent. The three
other digital providers account for the remaining 34.4 percent.
The future is also uncertain for the cellular sector. Competition is
intense in the mobile phone industry with the four latecomers struggling
to generate profits. Cash-flow situations are becoming increasingly
tight as they are boosting efforts to lure foreign equity partners.
The increasing popularity of multimedia online services with access to
the Internet contributed to a 2.8 percent monthly rise in the number
of paying subscribers to the country's dozen-plus online services to
3.85 million. Dacom Corp. held the top share of 32.4 percent, despite
strong competition in the online service industry.
Among the findings of the ministry's survey was that some 60 percent
to 70 percent of subscribers to wireless and online services are in
their 20s and 30s. About two thirds of those subscribers are male.
A separate survey conducted by Yahoo! Korea Inc. in May found that the
gender gap is more pronounced among Internet users, with some 84 percent
of them male. A total of 86 percent said they use the Internet to obtain
news and information. Electronic commerce on the Internet is just beginning
to catch on with only 18 percent of Internet users surveyed having purchased
goods over the Internet.
Phone Use Rising Sharply in Korea
of Pager Subscribers Declines in Korea
(James Lim, Asia BizTech Correspondent)