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S. Korean mobile carriers set to launch faster mobile technology
제목 없음 South Korean mobile carriers SK Telecom Co. and LG Uplus Corp. said Thursday they will start commercial service of a faster mobile technology this week, heralding an era of "a true mobile Internet."

   Industry leader SK Telecom said it will launch the first commercial long-term evolution (LTE) service in Seoul on Friday. LG Uplus, the No. 3 mobile operator, also said it will offer the service in Seoul and two other cities on the same day.

   "The start of the LTE service heralds a true mobile Internet era in South Korea, with data transmission at a speed about five times faster than the third-generation (3G) service" used by most mobile subscribers in South Korea, LG Uplus said in a statement.

   The service, or the so-called fourth generation (4G) of wireless technology, will give Internet-savvy Korean smartphone users a way to more quickly download or stream movies, open new Web pages and send large pictures, mobile operators said.

   The number of smartphone and tablet computer users has grown fast in South Korea from 1 million in January of 2010, to 10 million one year later, and then to 14 million as of June, a little less than one-third of the country's wireless market.

   Local wireless operators have been scurrying to upgrade their networks that are quickly bursting at seams and invest in faster mobile technology to meet demand from bandwidth-hungry smartphone users. Korean mobile users are the largest consumers of wireless data, KT Corp's president Pyo Hyun-myung said.

   SK Telecom, which controls about half of the mobile market, hopes to lure at least 300,000 LTE phone subscribers before the end of this year and 10 million by 2015, it said. The company plans to offer nationwide LTE service by 2013.

   For LG Uplus, the operator of second-generation (2G) mobile service and the only local carrier without the iPhone, the stakes are high for LTE to drive subscriber and revenue growth. LG Uplus lost ground to its bigger rivals SK Telecom and KT, which advanced in the lucrative smartphone market with 3G mobile phones such as the iPhone.

   KT, the country's dominant fixed-line operator and No. 2 mobile carrier, said that it plans to launch commercial LTE service in November this year.

   KT is also banking on another 4G technology called Wireless Broadband (WiBro), which has been available in most cities in South Korea, to help diversify wireless data demand coming from smartphone users.

Source: Yonhap News (June 30, 2011)

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