SK Telecom officially announced Friday that it will provide services for Apple’s iPhone 4 as early as next month, bringing an end to its rival KT Corp.’s 15-month long exclusive deal with Apple.
The country’s leading mobile carrier SKT has not provided the details on when it will release the smartphone, however, it said it predicts more people will use the popular gadget, using its network and services. Apple Korea also expressed excitement over the deal.
“We’re thrilled to have signed an agreement with SK Telecom to launch iPhone 4 in Korea in the coming weeks,” said Steve Park, a representative of Apple Korea.
According to a survey being conducted by ROA Consulting, more than five out of every 10 people said they would opt for SKT as their mobile service operator when purchasing the next model (iPhone 5). About 1,400 people participated in the survey that takes place until Feb. 28.
A total of 57.8 percent picked SKT for iPhone 5, while 42.2 percent chose KT as of 2 p.m. Friday.
Of them, it was found that more than 60 percent of men preferred SKT, whereas a greater portion of women ― 60.1 percent ― went for KT.
“What was found as interesting in a separate survey which questioned our subscribers was that most people who currently have their handsets serviced by SKT responded they would stick to its carrier when buying iPhone 5, but a high portion of KT subscribers said they are willing to make the switch to SKT,” David Kim, CEO of ROA Consulting told The Korea Herald.
SKT is reportedly planning to introduce Apple’s iPad as well as iPhone 5 sometime this year.
Industry sources say the introduction of Apple’s iPhone would most likely drive up the company’s subscriber figure as well as its profit to a new level if it successfully secures the 2.1 gigahertz frequency band, which will be put on auction by the government as early as April.
Last year, SKT recorded a market share of 50.6 percent, followed by KT and LG Uplus with 31.6 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively.
All three telecoms have been claiming that the new frequency band would enable them to offer seamless Internet service for their smartphone subscribers.
“Since we’ve decided to service the iPhone, we expect the user base of iPhone to get bigger, which will lead to a rise in data usage,” said an SKT official.
The Korea Communications Commission plans to stage the auction for the first time for the 2.1 gigahertz frequency bands ― used for 3G communications services ― as early as April and will accept applications from not only telecoms, but also large-scale and Internet firms.
By Cho Ji-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)