KOREA: Electronics makers compete over mobile television
Electronics firms anticipate that mobile handsets will become a big market
The Korea Herald
Monday, April 4, 2005
With mobile television services expecting commercial launch during the second quarter, mobile-phone makers are racing to deliver new models capable of receiving broadcasting signals.
LG Electronics Inc., Korea's second-largest electronics maker, said it is talking with mobile-phone operator KT Freetel Co. to supply handsets for the land-based mobile television services slated for commercial launch in June.
The company had agreed with mobile-phone operator LG Telecom Ltd. last year to supply its LG-LT1000 phones, designed to receive broadcasting signals, and recently completed the delivery of the first batch.
The phones will hit the shelves next month at a price tag of around 700,000 to 800,000 won ($791), according to company officials. LG Electronics expect to introduce three more handsets with mobile television capability during this year.
"For the new handsets, we are focusing on reducing power consumption, enhancing broadcasting reception of antennas and multitasking capabilities. With DMB phones first moving out of the prototype level and thrown in the market for commercial use, we expect the early competition to have a significant impact," said a LG Electronics spokesman.
Samsung Electronics Co., Korea's leading electronics maker and the world's third-largest mobile-phone maker, reached an agreement last year with KTF to supply its SPH-B1200 mobile television handsets and said it is working on a similar contract with LG Telecom.
Samsung Electronics is currently delivering mobile television handsets to TU Media Corp., 30 percent owned by the country's largest mobile-phone carrier SK Telecom Co., for its satellite-based mobile television services currently in its trial period.
Pantech & Curitel Co., the country's third-largest mobile-phone operator, expects to release their first handsets for land-based mobile television services in June. The company recently introduced a prototype version that was equipped with a horizontal 2.4 inch display. Pantech & Curitel expects to release five to seven mobile television handsets by the end of the year.
"We recently completed the delivery of our first batch of orders to KTF. We expect handset orders to increase in the second quarter, with the government completing the licensing process over land-based DMB," said a Samsung Electronics spokesman.
"Korea will be an important test-bed for our DMB handsets with interest over mobile television services increasing in Europe and North America," he said.
Mobile television services, dubbed by Korean officials as digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB), are designed to beam digital television, audio and data broadcasts to handheld devices via satellite or land-based television airwaves.
Last week, the government allocated six licenses for land-based mobile television services that are expected to go live in June. The country's three major land-based television stations - KBS, MBC and SBS-secured spots for the nascent market.
For the three remaining spots saved for non-terrestrial broadcasters, were allocated to consortiums led by cable news broadcaster YTN, radio broadcaster CBS and a group led by electronics equipment makers PSK Tech Inc., Homecast Co. and digital content developer Sigong Tech Co.
The government allocated a license for satellite-based mobile television services to TU Media Corp. in December last year. TU Media, currently running trial operations, hopes to begin commercial services in May and plans to provide 14 video and 24 audio channels to customers for a monthly fixed rate of 13,000 won ($12.60). The company will take around 25 percent of the service fees it shares with the country's three mobile-phone operators SK Telecom, KT Freetel Co. and LG Telecom Ltd.
In related news last week, EBS, the country's fourth-largest television station, said it is considering filing a lawsuit against the Korean Broadcasting Commission, accusing the country's broadcasting regulator of unfairly conducting the licensing process over land-based mobile television. EBS, which had applied for a license under a partnership with news agency Yonhap, failed to secure a spot for the nascent market.
Date Posted: 4/4/2005