Korean Telco Is WiFi Hotspot Leader

Techdirt readers will have noticed my fondness for the Korean wireless industry. Happy customers, varied services, advanced networks, and high profits – what’s not to like. While stories regarding Korean wireless have normally dealt with the cellular industry, more and more the Koreans are taking a lead with respect to WiFi technologies as well. When I was in Seoul in June, I found a hotspot almost every time I opened my laptop; the numbers explain why: While the top WISP in North America, T-Mobile, is offering over 2,500 hotspots, KT (Korea’s dominant fixed line carrier) has installed over 7,000 hotspots in South Korea, a relatively small geographic nation. KT alone will have 1.5M WiFi users by the end of the year, and the revenue from their hotspots has reached 24B Won (US$20.3M). Most Recently, KT has made a deal with domestic fast-food burger chain Lotteria and Intel to offer PWLAN in 350 restaurants. Intel, once again with its fingers in the press pie, is contributing the negative value of a proprietary “Centrino Wireless Identifier program logos” and “certification” to the mix (as if “WiFi compatible” weren’t certification enough.) Although the KT adoption numbers sound great, we’d like to learn a little more about the cost structure KT is incurring before passing judgment on the Korean PWLAN business. Update: Thanks to Glenn Fleishman for correcting my conversion error, where I increased KT revenues from M to B! The above is the corrected data.

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