SK Broadband seeks to reclaim its leadership in the internet protocol television market after it launched commercial IPTV services on Jan. 1.
SK has introduced advanced fixed-line services in Korea -- fast-speed internet service ADSL in 1999 and preliminary IPTV services in 2006. But the company has ceded the top spot in those markets to rival KT.
But SK Telecom, the nation's top mobile service provider, acquired the No. 2 fixed line provider SK Broadband last year, giving the firm much needed clout.
With SK Telecom's brand recognition and customer base, SK Broadband seeks to regain its IPTV leadership again. Its CEO, Cho Shin, has also repeatedly emphasized the company aims to become the leader in convergence services such as IPTV.
To help sell its IPTV service, SK Broadband has bundled its IPTV other fixed-line services with SK Telecom's mobile services to improve price competitiveness.
SK Broadband will also expand its customer choice by offering content owned by SK Group, which has several media affiliates.
SK Broadband was the country's first firm to launch preliminary IPTV, which focused on video-on-demand, in 2006.
KT overtook SK Broadband as the nation's top IPTV operator in the latter half of 2008, leveraging its broad customer base in fixed-line telephony and broadband internet services.
KT's IPTV service, dubbed Mega TV, has 800,000 subscribers, while SK Broadband's Broad & TV has 780,000 and LG Dacom's myLGtv has 65,000.
SK Broadband claims to have superior content, which is "key to competitiveness" in IPTV business.
The operator has secured more than 80,000 items of content through partnerships with 270 Korean and foreign companies.
The company says VOD services will remain a main IPTV service even though live broadcasts of programs are now permitted.
Until recently, television programming was not available via IPTV. After a legal framework for IPTV was formed in 2008, main television stations agreed on real-time broadcasts via IPTV. KT started commercial services with real-time broadcasts in November, while SK Broadband and LG Dacom followed suit on Jan.1.
Broad & TV plans to initially offer main TV channels including terrestrial channels and news and sports channels.
SK Broadband also seeks to differentiate itself from cable and satellite providers through interactive services. SK Broadband currently provides viewers with simple interactive services such as karaoke, weather and casual game services.
SK Telecom plans to establish IPTV networks in the Seoul metropolitan area this year and to expand IPTV networks nationwide by 2010. Currently, its IPTV service is available only in Seoul.
SK Broadband plans to invest 1.6 trillion won in IPTV business, planning to spend 970 billion won on networks, 502.6 billion won on contents and 127 billion won on broadcasting equipment.
By Jin Hyun-joo