SK Telecom, KT, and Hanaro Win WiBro Licenses

The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has awarded the three tendered licenses to operate a BWA system in South Korea using the local flavor “WiBro” technology. WiBro is a homegrown technology with few Intellectual Property obligations to foreign companies, yet which has technology similar to WiMAX. It is basically an attempt by the Korean Government to avoid paying endless streams of royalties to North American or European patent holders, and even more the MIC hopes to export the technology abroad and earn some royalties. At first this seemed like a long shot, but perhaps the MIC controlled WiBro will be able to progress more quickly than the widely controlled, Intel-driven, royalty-ambiguous mess that is WiMAX. Meanwhile, the three winners of the licenses in Korea will each pay $US113M for their licenses in the 2.3GHz band. They will each be required to invest over US$1B in infrastructure to retain their license. How is that for an aggressive drive toward wireless broadband, especially for a country where 75% of the households already have DSL or cable Internet. WiBro is to act both as a competitor to wired broadband, but chiefly as a mobile broadband.

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