South Korea’s deployment of WiBro technology appears to have hit troubled times, with reports suggesting the country’s government and presidential office are considering punishing operators for a lack of investment and could even withdraw their licenses. A Light Reading Asia report, drawing on an article from Korea’s ET News, notes that KT and SK Telecom (SKT) agreed to invest US$1 billion on infrastructure and target 1.4 million subscribers by 2009 when the licenses were awarded four years ago. However, Light Reading Asia reports that at the end of June KT had 218,454 WiBro subscribers, whilst SKT is believed to have only around 20,000 as at end-April this year. Pyramid Research claims that both operators still have US$200 million to US$300 million in capex left to invest in the technology in order to hit the US$1 billion investment target.
In May 2008 Mobile Business Briefing reported that KT and SKT were set to launch ‘Wave 2’ of the technology, although such deployment appears to have been less successful than hoped. WiBro is a high-speed mobile broadband technology based on the IEEE’s mobile WiMAX 802.16 standard, and has its highest profile in the South Korean market. However, it has suffered from limited deployment nationwide, whereas HSPA technology enjoys a greater nationwide reach. According to Wireless Intelligence, SKT and KT are the second and third-largest HSPA operators in the world, respectively, in terms of total connections. Adding further fuel to the fire that WiBro may not have a successful future in South Korea, a recent partnership between Ericsson and the country’s government is believed to have a major focus on rival LTE technology.
includes a future move to LTE. Bahrain is the first country in the Zain group to announce plans for LTE.