Korean WiBRO Adoption Figures Are Dismal

An English-Korean paper has just released an article describing the state of WiBRO adoption in Korea, revealing that since its launch in June, the WiBro service offered by KTF has attracted some 479 customers, while the WiBRO from SK Telecom has attracted 15. Yes, fifteen subscribers. I take the article with a grain of salt, since the writer does mistakenly suggest that Verizon Wireless is considering HSDPA, but if their Korean sources are correct, the numbers are an absolutely terrible result. From other Korean sources, I have followed the WiBro launch, and it has a couple of key problems: 1) Samsung promised handsets by launch time, but slipped their schedule multiple times. Current prototype handsets have problems with overheating and battery consumption, so the launch is limited to PCMCIA laptop cards; 2) Coverage has been difficult to build-out, and the commercial networks only cover the same areas as the pilot projects. The SKT pilot project covered just six "hotzones" in Seoul; 3) Performance has not been as good as expected. For example, Telecoms Korea reports (reg. req.) that at the Expo Comm show in Seoul in May, the KT "Experience WiBRO" booth could only muster a WiBRO connection with 50Kbps. However, I have also heard from colleagues who have take a "WiBRO bus" recently, and the on-board connectivity demo was impressive. It seems the two Korean carriers were rushing their launches to meet regulatory obligations, which were put in place largely to establish "World's First" bragging rights. However, with the poor results, the bragging opportunity is anemic at best.


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