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South Korea mobile data market to reach $9bn by 2015: Pyramid Research

Network upgrades to top priority list of mobile operators to meet the growing demand for mobile data

Network upgrades will top the priority list of mobile operators in South Korea, as mobile data market is expected to nearly double in size from $5.1bn to $9.0bn by 2015, according to a new report from Pyramid Research.

The research house said that the increased proliferation of smartphones, such as the iPhone, and the accompanying increase in demand for mobile data access has put the issue of network upgrades front and centre for mobile operators.

Pyramid senior analyst Tae-hyung Kim said that both SK Telecom and KT have revised their plans regarding LTE, with SK Telecom taking a more aggressive stance, and SK Telecom plans to commercialise LTE services in 2011 with datacards and with mobile handsets in 2012.

"KT, on the other hand, will continue to upgrade to HSPA+ and seek to roll out LTE, but will also try to leverage its WiBro and WiFi networks to offload as much data traffic as possible to lessen the strain on its mobile network," Kim said.

However, the report revealed that demand for LTE will be limited until there is enough portfolio of handsets that have been tested and proved in the markets, specially in South Korea, where demand for mobile broadband via laptops is low.

Pyramid said that improving the capacity of the WCDMA network by upgrading to HSPA+, along with expanding the network coverage to 2G levels will prove to be more beneficial.