Seoul – The importance of IPTV to KT became apparent last week as newly-appointed president and CEO Lee Suk-chae refused a lavish ceremony in favour of delivering an hour-long lecture to employees about the company’s IPTV network – and the need for harder work and more innovation. Korea’s biggest telephone company also announced its proposed merger with wireless subsidiary KT Freetel, meeting with fierce opposition from rival SK Telecom. The three top fixed-line telcos – KT, SK Broadband and LG Dacom – are all seeking to attract subscribers for their IPTV services – but are seen to be lagging behind both expectations and regulator requirements. Conditions of the licenses issued by the Korea Communication Commission (KCC) to the three companies last year, required the companies to provide at least 60 channels on their networks by the end of the first quarter of 2009. But reports say KT is currently offering only 40 channels, with SK Broadband and LG Dacom providing 23 and 21 respectively. Service coverage is also seen to be lacking, with KT the only one currently capable of reaching beyond Seoul and the metropolitan area. KT, with about 90 percent of the country’s fixed-line telephony customers and nearly 45 percent of broadband Internet subscribers, said it is capable of providing IPTV to nearly 70 percent of its broadband customers, or about 4.6 million households. The company hopes to replace about 95 percent of its broadband networks with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) by the end of the year. LG Dacom provides its IPTV services only in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. SK Broadband’s television service is currently limited to Seoul, with coverage based on the spreading of the company’s broadband Internet subscribers. LG Dacom, meanwhile, has invested over 600 billion won (US$438 million) in upgrading its network.
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