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South Korea Adds Satellite Broadcasts To Mobile Services

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Already among the most savvy cell phone users in the world, South Koreans will add satellite digital multimedia broadcasting to their roster of mobile services on Monday (Jan. 10).

TU Media Corp, a joint venture between SK Telecom and Toshiba Corp., will start trials in Seoul that deliver up to 39 channels, 11 of which will go to video, 25 to audio and the remaining three to data.

SK Telecom will charge US$12 a month for TU Media's service, plus a general one-time subscription fee of US$17. It expects to attract 1.5 million subscribers by 2006, break even in 2008 and have 8 million customers by 2010, with US$1 billion in revenue.

With wireless and wired penetration among the highest in Asia, SK Telecom is being forced to come up with new services to keep its growth alive at home. In 2003, the telecom operator launched a video-on-demand service over its CDMA EV-DO network. The response was literally overwhelming. A monthly flat rate of US$17, plus 85 cents a movie, attracted so many Koreans that the network buckled under the load, forcing SK Telecom to make the unpopular move of sharply increasing fees to curb demand.

SK Telecom's latest foray into mobile video is the result of a partnership with Japan's Mobile Broadcasting Corp. (MBCo), which was formed in 1998 by primary shareholders Toshiba Corp., Toyota Motors, Fujitsu Ltd. and Nippon Television Network Corp. More than 80 companies have joined since then, including SK Telecom.

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