LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE ASIA EXPO 2012: South Korea’s largest mobile operator SK Telecom (SKT) is fighting back against a number of Over-The-Top (OTT) players that have become hugely popular in the country in recent years, promising the imminent launch of an RCS-based service and further deployment of its Smart Push technology.
Speaking to the Mobile Asia Daily ahead of his appearance at this week’s CTO roundtable session, Dr. Choi Jin-Sung, SVP and Head of SKT’s Technology Strategy Office, admitted: “Korean mobile carriers are experiencing difficulties, including decreased SMS revenues and increased network investment cost to accommodate surging traffic, caused by the popularity of various free messaging services.”
Among them, he said, KaKao Talk, a mobile messaging service used by 37 million Koreans (46 million subscribers globally as of May 2012), is fast becoming a threat to mobile operators as it has recently launched a mVOIP service. And these OTT service providers are expected to evolve into a UC (Unified Communication) platform after securing subscribers based on their messaging services.
In response to this competitive threat, Dr. Choi Jin-Sung revealed that SKT is preparing a RCS-based UC service in partnership with other Korean telecommunications companies and plans to link this service other GSMA member operators too.
At the same time, the company is applying Smart Push, its home-grown technology that enables integrated management of keep-alive signals, to prevent network overload. “Here, the opening up of the Smart Push technology is an exemplary case where all stakeholders including mobile carriers, OTT service providers and customers gain benefits,” he said. “SK Telecom has also entered into MOUs with Samsung Electronics and NSN to promote overseas exports of Smart Push-embedded network equipment.”
Dr. Choi Jin-Sung is confident that such measures will ensure SKT and the global operator community can stay at the forefront of innovative service development. “Operators must think from the customers’ perspective when developing new products and services. It is important that they secure experts of various fields to develop innovative services in new business areas so as to compete against ICT companies including OTT players,” he argued.
“Mobile operators must actively transform themselves into a structure and form suitable for the new environment built upon innovation, efficiency, openness and collaboration to achieve new growth of their own and drive evolution of related industries. Through such efforts, they are expected to play the key role in the newly created environment by leading customers’ lifestyle innovations and promoting mutual growth with partners.”