By early 2007, about 29 percent of South Korea’s population – 90 percent of households – subscribed to broadband services, making it the most penetrated broadband market in the world. In the late ’90s, the government mandated that operators provide a 2 Mbps connection for every citizen. The government’s push for ubiquitous coverage, mixed with South KoreaKorea’s competitive market, dense population (apartment buildings make up nearly 60 percent of housing) and computer-literate society, outlines the foundation of the country’s burgeoning broadband market.

The popularity of available content, such as online gaming, has also spurred broadband growth, as well as reduced costs due to increased competition. And as of 2006, South Korea had the largest percentage of Internet users downloading videos from the Web.

South Korea’s Broadband convergence Network (BcN) is expected to be completed by 2010, converging TV broadcasts, voice telecommunications and the Internet into a single network with transmission speeds of 50-100 Mbps.

Cable TV operators in the country have rivals in satellite providers, but also in Hanaro and KT, two telcos that have deployed pre-IPTV services. IPTV regulations have been delayed in the country because of a long-lasting spat between the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) and the Korean Broadcasting Commission (KBC) over who should regulate the new technology. Now the National Assembly is trying to introduce a regulatory framework through legislation.

What follows are some brief statistics and a peek at South Korea’s major players.

South Korea broadband stats

  • Population: 49.1 million
  • 41.1 million mobile subs**
  • 34.1 million Internet users*
  • 23.1 million fixed telephone lines in service*
  • 14.2 million broadband subs**

    • 5.2 million DSL subs
    • 5.1 million cable modem subs
    • 3.6 million A-LAN subs
    • 400,000 other subs


  • Headquarters: Seoul
  • Second-largest cable operator
  • Offers cable TV, VOD and high-speed Internet services
  • 2 million cable TV subs*

    • 1.9 million analog subs
    • 84,000 digital subs

  • 422,000 Internet subs*
  • In August, Goldman Sachs sold its 30.5 percent share in C&M to Macquarie Bank for $664.9 million.

Hanaro Telecom

  • Headquarters: Seoul
  • Second-largest telco
  • Offers high-speed Internet, IPTV and telephony services.
  • 540,000 hanaTV (VOD IPTV) subs***
  • 3.6 million broadband subs**

    • 2 million cable modem subs
    • 956,000 A-LAN subs
    • 568,000 DSL subs
    • 77,000 FTTH subs


  • Headquarters: Seongnam City
  • Largest telco
  • Offers fixed-line, data, Internet, mobile and satellite telecom services.
  • 21.3 million fixed-line subs**
  • 6.5 million broadband subs***

    • 4.5 million DSL subs
    • 1.8 million A-LAN subs
    • 187,000 FTTH subs
    • 1,200 satellite Internet subs

  • 30,000 MegapassTV (VOD IPTV) subs**

SK Telecom

  • Headquarters: Seoul
  • Largest mobile operator
  • Offers mobile, wireless Internet and video telephony services
  • 20.7 million subs**
  • Recently inked deal with McDonald’s, enabling users to place meal orders via mobile phones


  • Headquarters: Seoul
  • Offers digital satellite TV, as well as portable and mobile video services
  • 2 million subs**
  • Launched DVB-MHP-based iTV service (SkyTouch) in 2003; currently has more than 1 million SkyTouch subs


  • Headquarters: Seoul
  • Largest cable operator
  • Offers cable TV, VOD and high-speed Internet services
  • 3 million subs*

* As of December 2006  |  * * As of March 2007  |  * * * As of April 2007  |  Source: BuddeComm