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Posts Tagged ‘KTF’

 

iPhone Dreams – South Korea Launch

 


It seems clear that KTF will be the Korean carrier to release the iPhone 3G, but the question is when. / Korea Times File

picture-11Apple Product Debut Is Now Mooted for a Variety of Reasons

By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter 

In all likelihood, the domestic debut of the iPhone, the hottest selling gadget at the moment, will be delayed to 2009 or later. 

But with the government now moving quicker to scrap the software standards that kept foreign handset makers at bay, a result of pressure from U.S. trade authorities, an iPhone for Christmas now sounds slightly better than a pipedream. 

According to industry sources, KTF, the country’s second-largest mobile-phone carrier, hasn’t given up on the idea of releasing the iPhone 3G, the latest version of Apple’s immensely popular phone, within the month of December yet. 

The company sees Dec. 1 as an ideal launching date, a source said. However, making the target date is considered an extreme long shot. The timing of the iPhone’s release depends on how fast the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) lays its verdict on the future of “WIPI’’ (wireless platform for interoperability), the domestic software standard required for any handset with mobile data capability.

Departing from its earlier stance that called for “extensive discussions,’’ officials at KCC, the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, is now saying that a conclusion could be reached by the end of the year. 

“A decision could be soon, and it wouldn’t go past early next year at the latest,’’ said an official from KCC’s policy bureau. 

In a National Assembly audit last month, KCC chairman Choi See-joong told lawmakers that the regulatory body was leaning toward lifting the WIPI requirement, although citing the need for further discussions due to the complicated web of interests entangling wireless operators and electronics makers. 

And in a regular trade meeting between Korea and the U.S. last week, U.S. authorities raised concerns that the WIPI requirement is effectively acting as a trade barrier. 

A KTF official refused to confirm whether the company has set a goal for a December launch, saying there was “nothing to report’’ at the moment. He did say, however, that things are expected to move fast once the uncertainty over WIPI is cleared. 

“There is no need for us to call it impossible, but releasing iPhone within December would indeed by a huge challenge,’’ said the official, who refused to comment on whether the company had finalized its pricing agreement of Apple or whether they have put the iPhone 3G handsets through network interoperability tests. 

“Unlike Nokia or other foreign handset makers, Apple has no intensions of releasing a WIPI-enabled handset,’’ he said. 

In a recent conference call, KTF chief financial officer Cho Hwa-jun confirmed the company’s commitment to bring in the iPhone and other high-end phones from foreign electronics makers to diversify its handset lineup and increase sales from mobile data services. 

KTF’s cut-throat competition with industry leader SK Telecom over third-generation (3G) customers is also adding to the company’s urgency to provide the iPhone. 

SK Telecom has currently released “smart-phone’’ models, including a touch-screen phone by Taiwanese maker, HTC, which was released in July this year. 

The country’s biggest wireless carrier will also released the Samsung Electronics’ highly anticipated “Omnia’’ handset in mid-November and another Blackberry handset, produced by Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM) by the end of the year. 

thkim@koreatimes.co.kr

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Update: November 3, 2008

Nov 3, 2008

Apple Product Debut Is Now Mooted for a Variety of Reasons

By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter 

picture-1In all likelihood, the domestic debut of the iPhone, the hottest selling gadget at the moment, will be delayed to 2009 or later. 

But with the government now moving quicker to scrap the software standards that kept foreign handset makers at bay, a result of pressure from U.S. trade authorities, an iPhone for Christmas now sounds slightly better than a pipedream. 

According to industry sources, KTF, the country’s second-largest mobile-phone carrier, hasn’t given up on the idea of releasing the iPhone 3G, the latest version of Apple’s immensely popular phone, within the month of December yet

The company sees Dec. 1 as an ideal launching date, a source said. However, making the target date is considered an extreme long shot. The timing of the iPhone’s release depends on how fast the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) lays its verdict on the future of “WIPI” (wireless platform for interoperability), the domestic software standard required for any handset with mobile data capability.

Departing from its earlier stance that called for “extensive discussions,” officials at KCC, the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, is now saying that a conclusion could be reached by the end of the year. 

“A decision could be soon, and it wouldn’t go past early next year at the latest,” said an official from KCC’s policy bureau. 

In a National Assembly audit last month, KCC chairman Choi See-joong told lawmakers that the regulatory body was leaning toward lifting the WIPI requirement, although citing the need for further discussions due to the complicated web of interests entangling wireless operators and electronics makers. 

And in a regular trade meeting between Korea and the U.S. last week, U.S. authorities raised concerns that the WIPI requirement is effectively acting as a trade barrier. 

A KTF official refused to confirm whether the company has set a goal for a December launch, saying there was “nothing to report” at the moment. He did say, however, that things are expected to move fast once the uncertainty over WIPI is cleared. 

“There is no need for us to call it impossible, but releasing iPhone within December would indeed by a huge challenge,” said the official, who refused to comment on whether the company had finalized its pricing agreement of Apple or whether they have put the iPhone 3G handsets through network interoperability tests. 

“Unlike Nokia or other foreign handset makers, Apple has no intensions of releasing a WIPI-enabled handset,” he said. 

In a recent conference call, KTF chief financial officer Cho Hwa-jun confirmed the company’s commitment to bring in the iPhone and other high-end phones from foreign electronics makers to diversify its handset lineup and increase sales from mobile data services. 

KTF’s cut-throat competition with industry leader SK Telecom over third-generation (3G) customers is also adding to the company’s urgency to provide the iPhone. 

SK Telecom has currently released “smart-phone” models, including a touch-screen phone by Taiwanese maker, HTC, which was released in July this year. 

The country’s biggest wireless carrier will also released the Samsung Electronics’ highly anticipated Omnia handset in mid-November and another Blackberry handset, produced by Canada’s Research in Motion (RIM) by the end of the year. 

thkim@koreatimes.co.kr

 

iPhone Korea Debut Delayed

By Kim Tong-hyung, Staff Reporter 

Apple’s iPhone is a gizmo just about everybody wants to get their hands on. However, in Korea, the world’s mobile-phone capital, the iconic handsets are likely to be crossed off from Christmas gift lists. 

KTF, the country’s second-largest wireless carrier, has been negotiating with

KTF CEO Cho Young-Joo

KTF CEO Cho Young-Joo

 

Apple over adding the iPhone 3G, the latest version of the immensely popular smart phone, to its handset lineup, and had hoped for a domestic release around the high-demand winter season. 

However, with state regulators slow to lift the software requirements that prevented foreign handset makers from gaining ground here, Koreans aren’t likely to get a taste of the iPhone craze at least until next year. 

“For now, there is no agreement of any kind between KTF and Apple over the release of iPhones,” said a KTF official, denying rumors that a deal had been reached. 

“Even after a deal is inked, the network interoperability tests will take about two or three months and there is also the process of enabling KTF’s existing mobile-phone applications to work on iPhones. It would be virtually impossible to release the handsets earlier than early next year,” he said. 

Foreign electronics makers have been effectively blocked out of the Korean mobile-phone market. The barrier has been “WIPI,” or “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard the government mandated in 2005 for all handsets designed to deliver mobile data services. 

Most foreign companies were reluctant to produced WIPI handsets just for the Korean handset market that is only worth about 20 million units per year. 

As a result, top Korean makers like Samsung and LG combine for nearly 90 percent of the domestic market, with Motorola and Casio managing a modest following for their WIPI-enabled handsets. 

However, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC), the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, have been facing increasing pressure to scrap the WIPI requirement and recently said it will reconsider the policy.

Consumers have been complaining that the regulations have restricted their choices, while wireless carriers KTF and SK Telecom, the No.1 mobile-phone operators, would prefer widening their handsets lineup to differentiate offerings. 

The KCC has already made exceptions, saying that foreign handsets released for business users would be exempt from the WIPI requirements. 

This allowed Taiwanese maker HTC to release their “Touch Dual” handset through SK Telecom in July. SK Telecom is also planning to release a Nokia handset next month. 

However, it would certainly be a joke to identify iPhone, right now the hippest gadget on Earth, as a smart phone for tie-wearing corporate customers. 

“We can’t make exceptions for foreign handset makers forever,” said a KCC official. However, he also said that the WIPI issue is not one of the scheduled subjects to be discussed in the KCC’s executive meetings this month. 

“The scrapping of the WIPI requirements is too big of a decision to make a quick judgment. It will definitely take more than one meeting,” he said. 

KTF, which is competing toe-to-toe against SK Telecom for third-generation (3G) customers, hopes that iPhone could serve as the franchise player that gives them an edge in the handset match up. 

However, LG Telecom, the smallest of all carriers, wants the WIPI requirements to stay. Unlike the WCDMA technology used for the 3G services of SK Telecom and KTF, LG Telecom is one of the few global carriers that rely on EV-DO Revision (A), an evolved version of second-generation (2G) CDMA technology, to handle mobile data services, which puts them out of the consideration for foreign handset makers.

Full Post > HERE

thkim@koreatimes.co.kr

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South Korea Wireless Operators in Talks With Nokia, Apple Over Phones

EXCERPT: South Korea’s WIPI – “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard that the government mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets. 

EXCERPT: “The KCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, is now considering scrapping the WIPI requirements, amid criticism that maintaining a fixed software standard would mean little when the global industry trend leans toward the adoption of open-source operating systems for wireless platforms.” 

… “It is true that we are currently reevaluating our WIPI policy, including the arguments whether we should continue to mandate handset makers to use the software. The matter will be eventually discussed in our executive committee.”

Full article > HERE 

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EXCERPT: Korea’s isolation in the global IT business was reaffirmed when Steve Jobs announced that the new iPhone will be “affordable for almost everyone” in the world ― but not here. 
“We’re going to be rolling out in 70 countries over the next several months. We are really thrilled with this,” the Apple CEO said to the tune of the Disney song.  “It’s a small world.” … “Next time you are in Malta and you need an iPhone 3G, it will be there for you.”

In the annual conference of Apple, the celebrity American CEO said that the upgraded version of iPhone will be released in 22 nations simultaneously on July 11, and in 70 nations within this year, from Portugal to India and from Japan to Madagascar. 

South Korea was not mentioned during the conference. The presence of two of the world’s largest mobile phone makers ― Samsung and LG ― has encouraged the government to shut its door to foreign-made mobile phones by using non-tariff barriers. Along with iPhone, the Nokia, Blackberry and Sony-Ericsson phones are virtually not allowed to be sold here. 

Full article > HERE

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Telecoms Korea news service is reporting that Apple is planning a special joint release of their next gen iPhone in partnership with NTT DoCoMo (Japan) and Korea’s Telecom Freetel (KTF). Presumably there are strategic or technology reasons for coordination between these two Asian Pacific carriers. Both DoCoMo and KTF support the W-CDMA 3G protocol yet that commonality is nothing unique. They do get along well (DoCoMo owns a 10.31% stake in KTF) and have previously formed joint ventures and partnerships. Perhaps the joint iPhone launch is just another such partnership?  Quoting Korea Telecom Freetel management, 3G Week reported in December 2007 that NTT DoCoMo and KTF would indeed form an iPhone distribution partnership.  TUAW.com also carried an article on this topic EXCERPT: “The South Korean market is small and without a Japanese partnership, Apple may decline to offer the unit in Korea at all.” See > HERE

NTT DoCoMo has 53 million mobile subscribers (44.4 million use its 3G-based network); Korea Telecom Freetel has approximately 12 million subscribers.

There may be other reasons for the two carriers to partner on iPhone … 

What do these two nations and carriers have in common that might require a special joint iPhone release?  Hard to say … So we are left to do some guesswork. We can start by considering special iPhone features that might be in strong demand in both nations. Would any of these hot features require coordination between the two carriers? Or perhaps a special production run of a next gen iPhone uniquely designed for Japanese and Korean consumers?  

Beyond the standard iPhone features, here are few theorized “next gen” iPhone features that might be important to both Japanese and South Korean consumers:

·      Mobile TV

·      Videophone (audio/visual iChat)

·      “Wave-to-Pay” that turns phone into credit card*

·      GPS

·      Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Let’s take closer look at that third bullet point … wave-to-pay. Both Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and S Korea’s KTF have implemented their wave-to-pay projects for mobile phones. This could be the one special feature that would require a separate production run of iPhone. The separate assembly would be required in order to embed iPhones with a near-field communications (NFC) device unique to these two markets. I want to emphasize that this is complete conjecture and I would invite those more versed on this topic to lend their opinion.

What is wave-to-pay? By 2012 some 300 million mobile phones will have “wave to pay” technology whereby the handset can be waved over a wireless reader to complete a transaction.  The mobile handset simply acts as a wallet and a transaction is charged against the customer’s bank account. Wireless payment technology is already widely used on toll bridges and for public transportation where riders need to move quickly through turnstiles.  Several handsets today use a variant of RFID technology for “wave to pay” called near-field communications (NFC). Japan makes wide use of this NFC technology in handsets. Credit card giant Visa has already introduced a ‘payWave’ card that enables small contractless purchases in shops. Several major banks (Barclays, HBOS, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and RBS) have announced plans to incorporate this new technology into their bank cards.

 

 

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