Asias mobile phone innovations by tyndale


Media Programme Asia

Asia’s Media Innovators
by Stephen Quinn           Asia’s mobile phone innovations
May 2010 – Chapter Two

                           Many of the media innovations in Asia           launched and we believe that more and
                           over the past few years have involved           more people will study English through
                           new uses for the mobile phone. For              mobile phones,” she said, adding that the
                           example, early in 2010 the Pearson              company would increase the content it
                           publishing group and phone maker                offered to appeal to different learners. As
                           Nokia formed a joint venture to teach           of early 2010 Mobiledu had about 20
                           English to people in China via the mo-          million subscribers and 1.5 million active
                           bile phone. This chapter looks at some          users each month. Customers access the
                           of the more interesting mobile phone            content through an application preloaded
                           innovations, and provides data about            on new Nokia handsets, or by downloading
                           mobile phone penetration in the Asian           software from the service’s web site or
                           region. Examples of other innovations           Nokia’s Ovi store.
                           are invited from readers. Please con-
                           tact the author at           The Mobiledu service is targeted at young
                                                                           professionals aged between 20 and 35.
                           China has more people learning English          Most use the service to improve their career
                           than any other country in the world. Mobile     prospects. Mobiledu has encountered a few
                           phones are popular ways to access informa-      problems not of its own making. On 30
                           tion in China. As of early 2010 China had at    November 2009 China Mobile implemented
                           least 730 million mobile subscribers. This      a series of measures meant to eliminate of-
                           was almost double the number of Internet        fensive or unauthorised content, including
                           users (384 million as of the end of 2009).      pornography, on Chinese-based wireless
                           So it seems natural to combine mobile           application protocol (WAP) sites. It was all
                           phones with education.                          part of the Chinese government’s efforts to
                                                                           “maintain an orderly mobile Internet envi-
                           The Pearson Company owns the world’s            ronment”. As a result, China Mobile and
                           largest education publishing business as        other Chinese telecommunications operators
                           well as the Financial Times and Penguin         suspended billing their customers for all
                           books. Nokia is the world’s biggest maker       WAP and some mobile gaming services.
                           of mobile phone handsets. In the last three     This included services that do not contain
                           months of 2009 Nokia sold almost 18 mil-        offensive or unauthorised content, on
                           lion mobile phones in China, 36 per cent        behalf of third party service providers,
                           more than a year earlier. In 2009 Pearson       such as Mobiledu.
                           bought a company called Wall Street English
                           for US$145 million in cash, giving it a lead-   Similar innovations with mobile phones are
                           ing position in China’s English-language        happening in Bangladesh. More than 1
                           teaching market. The new joint venture          million English lessons have been down-
                           between Pearson and Nokia is called Beijing     loaded to mobile phones as part of the
                           Mobiledu Technologies. It builds on a ser-      BBC’s Janala service, the corporation told
                           vice that Nokia launched in 2007, providing     the World Mobile Conference in Barcelona in
                           content from a variety of publishers.           February 2010. Janala means “window” in
                                                                           Bangla. Janala offers hundreds of three-
                           Angela Long, former head of Mobiledu at         minute audio lessons and quizzes – deli-
                           Nokia, runs Mobiledu in China. Elizabeth        vered via text message (SMS) – for about
                           Knup is Pearson’s chief representative in       7 US cents per lesson. People in Bangladesh
                           China. “We already have 20 million              dial a special code – 3000 – to get access to
                           subscribers in China since Mobiledu was,        a range of classes via their mobile phone.

Media Programme Asia       The BBC has also set up a website giving         Mobile phones are being used in a range of       learners free access to content:                 innovative and useful ways around Asia. In
                                                rural India, farmers receive agricultural in-
                                                                            formation such as current local market pric-
Asia’s Media Innovators    Janala launched in November 2009. It is          es on their phones, which they share with
by Stephen Quinn           aimed at young people living on less than        other farmers. For more details, see this
                           US$4 a day. Each session costs 3 taka, or        post:
                           about 4.5 US cents. In the three months to       asp?section_id=526&doc_id=180720
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           the start of February 2010, people in Ban-
                           gladesh accessed 1,030,583 Janala lessons.       Potential of the mobile phone
                           More than two-thirds of people who use the       Around the world, media companies are
                           beginners’ service returned to it, the BBC       starting to see the potential of the mobile
                           said. Overall, 39 per cent of callers returned   phone, especially smart-phones. John
                           to Janala. About 50 million people have mo-      Herlihy, a Google vice-president for global
                           bile phones in Bangladesh, in a population       advertising, believes desktop computers will
                           of 156 million. Bangladesh has the highest       be “irrelevant” within three years, and will
                           population density in the world, at about        be replaced by smart-phones. “Mobile
                           1,229 people per square kilometer.               makes the world’s information universally
                                                                            accessible. Because there’s information and
                           Sara Chamberlain, the head of interactive        because it will be hard to sift through it all,
                           for the BBC World Service Trust, said many       that’s why search will become more and
                           Bangladeshis were eager to learn English to      more important. This will create new oppor-
                           improve their access to the global economy.      tunities for new entrepreneurs to create
                           The BBC aimed to put English within the          new business models – ubiquity first, reve-
                           reach of millions of non-English speakers,       nue later.” It is all part of a transition from
                           she said. A BBC survey reported that 84 per      big technology to small. People have moved
                           cent of Bangladeshis considered English es-      from mainframe computer to desktop, to
                           sential for securing a good job and educat-      laptop, and soon to their mobile phone.
                           ing their children. “We knew demand for
                           English was strong in Bangladesh, but the        In Japan, most research was being done on
                           response to BBC Janala has been nothing          smart-phones and not PCs, Herlihy told an
                           short of phenomenal,” Chamberlain said.          audience at University College Dublin in ear-
                           “The growth of mobile is clearly creating an     ly March 2010. A smart-phone is effectively
                           opportunity to provide access to education       an ultra-portable computer that allows its
                           in a way simply not possible before.”            owner to surf the web, receive and send
                                                                            email, and conduct a host of other online
                                                                            activities. As of mid 2009 only one in 10 of
                                                                            the world’s 4.2 billion mobile phones were
                                                                            smart-phones. In July 2009 Morgan Stanley
                                                                            Research predicted the number of smart-
                                                                            phones could represent half the total num-
                                                                            ber of mobile phones within the “next few
                                                                            years”. The analysts described the migra-
                                                                            tion to Internet-connected mobile devices
                                                                            as “one of the biggest opportunities in the
                                                                            history of the technology industry”.

                                                                            Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt told the 2010
                                                                            Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in Feb-
                                                                            ruary 2010 that his company was moving to
                                                                            a “mobile first” strategy. “Culturally it is
                                                                            time to figure out a way to say yes to the
                                                                            emergent new services and ideas that will
                                                                            not come from Google, but from those liter-
                                                                            ally millions of companies and programming
                                                                            shops that will be built on this new
                                                                            platform,” he said. “What I would suggest
                                                                            to you here, right now, at Mobile World

Media Programme Asia       Congress is to understand that
the new rule       a combination of good coffee and wi-fi in a       is ‘mobile first’; mobile first in everything     range of cities. Google’s SkyMap app helps
                           [...] it’s time for us to make mobile first the   people identify star patterns.
                           right answer.”
Asia’s Media Innovators                                                      Google has become increasingly involved
by Stephen Quinn           It is interesting and useful here to pause to     with mobile phones because it sees the po-
                           consider all of the products that were pre-       tential power of combining mobile devices
                           viously sold separately but which have been       with information. It helps that Google man-
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           incorporated into mobile phones. Some ex-         ages a huge chunk of the world’s informa-
                           amples include still and video cameras, cal-      tion. Guardian journalist Victor Keegan ele-
                           culators, music players, satellite navigation     gantly noted that “if data is the gold dust of
                           systems, maps, compasses, and electronic          the new era, then Google will own the
                           versions of books.                                deepest mine”. “If, like me, you are willingly
                                                                             immersed in a snowstorm of Google prod-
                           Augmented reality, perhaps better known as        ucts from GMail to mapping and Google
                           AR, is one of the latest mobile phone appli-      Earth,” he wrote in a column on 5 March
                           cations that combines many of the capabili-       2010, “then a phone like the [Google] Nex-
                           ties recently added to phones into a single       us One … which has access to everything
                           user application. AR applications use the         about me is both a potentially awesome
                           phone’s positioning technology to note a          product in its own right and a huge threat to
                           person’s location, and the device’s compass       my liberty if Google misuses that informa-
                           to check the direction the user is facing. In     tion.” The disruptive power of the mobile
                           this way, the device can “guess” what the         “knows no end,” Keegan said.
                           user is seeing through their camera’s view-
                           finder. The AR software gathers information       Meanwhile, journalists and publishers are
                           about points of interest in that line of sight    seeking ways to use augmented reality via
                           and displays it on top of what the camera         mobile phones. Esquire magazine in the US
                           sees.                                             and Wallpaper in Europe have done “aug-
                                                                             mented reality” editions, with Robert Down-
                           In effect, AR layers digital information onto     ey Jr coming to life on the cover of the for-
                           the physical world. The most common AR            mer, and AR text providing videos and ani-
                           software runs on “smart-phones” like              mation in the latter publication. Possible op-
                           Apple’s iPhone or handsets that use               tions for journalists using AR include “geo-
                           Google’s Android operating system. As the         tagging” online newspaper articles so that
                           name suggests, digital technology aug-            an item relates to a particular place. “Geo-
                           ments and improves the reality we see.            tagging” is the process where latitude and
                           For example, AR software adds a variety           longitude (location) are encoded into a pho-
                           of explanatory data to an image in the            tograph or other digital item. When some-
                           phone’s camera. This gives the user a bet-        one visits a site mentioned in the newspa-
                           ter understanding of what is going on.            per article they could learn about events
                                                                             relevant to the location via their smart-
                           In a foreign city I could point my smart-         phone.
                           phone down a street to see the subway sta-
                           tions in that direction, along with their pre-    Dorien Benkoil writes a technology blog for
                           cise location, and which lines stop at each.      the Poynter Institute, a journalism think
                                                                             tank, in Florida in the United States. Benkoil
                           One of the best AR applications is Layar. I       said Michael Young and a team of technolo-
                           use it on my iPhone to find nearby informa-       gists at The New York Times have been us-
                           tion or people. Data are represented in a         ing AR for location-based journalism such as
                           360-degree panorama. I used Layar, for ex-        restaurant reviews (“point your phone at
                           ample, to find all the people nearby using        the restaurant and get its details and rat-
                           Twitter, nearby ATMs, locate some good            ings”) and real estate (“see how many
                           coffee shops, or get details of restaurants in    apartments are available and what floor
                           a nearby building. Another iPhone app,            they’re on in a given building”). “I could im-
                           Worksnug, provides a panoramic view of all        agine a TV station using AR to let viewers
                           the public wi-fi hotspots around the phone        poke around in a scene or get more infor-
                           owner. Another iPhone app, called Laptop          mation about something they’re watching
                           Cafes, finds all the nearby cafes that have       right in the frame,” Benkoil said. “How

Media Programme Asia       about facial recognition software to give         inent plastic surgeon, Dr Hayden Kho, and a       information about a source a journalist is        collection of models and actresses who were
                           talking to?”                                      his girlfriends. Videos of Kho having sex
                                                                             with his girlfriends were circulated by mo-
Asia’s Media Innovators    Newspapers could offer advertisers like res-      bile phone for several months. The case re-
by Stephen Quinn           taurants or museums the ability to layer in-      ceived a huge amount of publicity and in-
                           formation or offerings to entice people in.       volved a wide cast of characters. A Google
                           “For example, imagine being able to see           search in March 2010 using the phrase
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           classified ads in a neighborhood overlain on      “Hayden Kho scandal” produced more than
                           the locations in which the material is availa-    3.5 million hits.
                           ble,” Benkoil said.
                                                                             Need for innovation
                           In San Francisco, the city’s transit system       As more and more people buy smart-
                           has partnered with augmented reality de-          phones, innovative media houses will need
                           veloper Junaio to provide an interactive          to provide a stream of new applications and
                           guide to getting around the city. People use      opportunities, such as AR and a range of
                           information about the Bay Area Rapid Tran-        new possibilities brought about by new
                           sit (BART) channel in their iPhone, and point     technologies. The arrival of the iPad, to be
                           the phone’s camera at their surroundings          launched in early April 2010, and similar
                           after loading the Junaio application. They        electronic devices will open the door for new
                           receive visual notifications of train stations,   ways for journalists to tell stories. Journal-
                           arrival times and nearby points of interest.      ists must embrace these new opportunities.
                           The Junaio app is connected to the transit        Otherwise they risk being left behind in the
                           system computer. It provides information          next phase of the digital evolution. Mobile
                           on station locations and updates train sche-      phone usage in Asia is growing quickly. In
                           dules constantly. Similar apps are being          the decade to 2007, the percentage of mo-
                           developed in Asia. For example, people in         bile phone users in the developing world
                           South Korea use an application called             jumped from 1 per cent to 45 per cent, ac-
                           ineedcoffee to find coffee shops. Here is         cording to the International Telecommuni-
                           a video about the application.                    cations Union (ITU). Growth is predicted to
                                                                             be significant in the Asia-Pacific region. The
                                                                             research company Datamonitor predicted
                                                                             the number of mobile phones in the Asian
                                                                             region would jump from 389 million in 2007
                                                                             to 890 million by 2012.

                                                                             In March 2010 Forbes magazine published
                                                                             results of a survey of consumer technology
                                                                             use in Asia, the United States and Europe.
                                                                             In Asia the magazine focused on China, In-
                                                                             dia, Malaysia and Singapore. The survey
                                                                             found that Malaysians led all other countries
                                                                             in their use of social-networking sites, in-
                                                                             cluding Facebook, with 86 per cent of re-
                           Privacy issues                                    spondents using online technology services.
                           Privacy becomes a major issue with mobile         A higher percentage of Singaporeans owned
                           phones, because of the ease with which            mobile phones than all other countries.
                           people can locate information about individ-      Smart-phone use was very high. Why was
                           uals, or use the camera on the phone to           mobile phone adoption so rapid in emerging
                           capture images without others noticing.           nations? Expansion of the middle class bol-
                           Benkoil warns that AR has what he calls a         stered by more disposable income was one
                           “creepiness” factor in the sense of the po-       reason, the magazine suggested. Demand
                           tential for invasion of privacy, or locating      for connected wireless devices such as
                           information secretly. But the camera on the       smart-phones was also being driven by so-
                           mobile phone has long been used to intrude        cial-networking applications. Respondents in
                           upon people’s privacy, and this issue must        emerging countries used mobile devices to
                           be appreciated. In May 2009 a scandal             access Internet-enabled applications and
                           erupted in the Philippines involving a prom-      services more than they used computers.

Media Programme Asia       The magazine noted a wide disparity re-         26 per cent of Vietnamese had access to the       garding ownership of web-enabled mobile         Internet, which represented about 22.7 mil-
                           phones. China ranked first with 59 per cent     lion people as of December 2009, according
                           and Singapore second at 46 per cent. But        to the Internet World Stats web site
Asia’s Media Innovators    the United States was well behind, with only    (
by Stephen Quinn           24 per cent of respondents saying they had      In February 2010 about 384 million people
                           a smart-phone.                                  were online in China, or about 26 per cent
                                                                           of the population, according to the Chinese
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           Mobile phone penetration in Asia                Academy of Social Sciences. China is mak-
                           This next section of the chapter provides       ing real strides in becoming an advanced
                           data about mobile phone use in a range of       telecommunications market. The mobile
                           Asian countries.                                sector expanded by 18 per cent in 2008 and
                                                                           was expanding at a rate of more than 15
                           By early 2009 Vietnam’s mobile phone            per cent in 2009. By the end of 2007, mo-
                           service providers claimed almost 70 million     bile penetration in China stood at 41.4 per
                           subscribers, representing a national pene-      cent of the population. In December 2009
                           tration rate of 80 per cent. More than four     the People’s Daily reported that the number
                           in five of those subscribers were pre-paid.     of mobile phone users rose by 97.32 million
                           In April 2009 the government issued four        to 739 million in the first 11 months of
                           3G licences, signalling what will probably be   2009. This meant one in every two citizens
                           the market’s next phase in its development.     in China had a mobile phone. The number
                           Mobile phone ownership in Vietnam is much       of people who accessed the Internet via
                           higher in the main cities – 74 per cent of      their mobile increased by 120 million to
                           people in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi own a      reach 233 million, or about 61 per cent.
                           mobile. The numbers are lower in other cit-
                           ies (58 per cent) and rural areas (37 per       In Hong Kong growth in the mobile phone
                           cent), but still high by regional standards.    arena continues despite a seemingly satu-
                           Vietnamese consumers are resilient and          rated market. By mid 2009 penetration was
                           remained positive despite the global eco-       at 170 per cent in a population of almost 7
                           nomic crisis. Vietnam’s consumers were          million, putting Hong Kong, Singapore and
                           ranked the fourth most confident worldwide,     Macau at the top of the Asian mobile mar-
                           according to an October 2009 global con-        ket. Growth in the mobile sector started in
                           sumer confidence study. Vietnam’s mobile        1999 when the market was boosted by the
                           phone penetration rate is higher than that      introduction of number portability. The roll-
                           of its larger neighbours China and India.       out of 3G services is expected to be a fea-
                                                                           ture of 2010. More than 85 per cent of Hong
                           Internet access in Vietnam is about the         Kong’s households had access to broadband
                           same as in China and higher than in India:      Internet by the end of 2009.

Media Programme Asia       Macau, a Special Administrative Region of        Google gives us access to 500 million pairs       China similar to Hong Kong, has one of the       of eyes every single moment of the day.
                           most developed mobile phone markets in           There are a few countries where the feed
                           the world. By early 2010 the region had          will be near as live which means there will
Asia’s Media Innovators    more than 1 million mobile subscribers,          be a delay of only a few minutes, but most
by Stephen Quinn           representing a penetration rate of more          places will be able to see live streaming of
                           than 190 per cent. Put another way, most         the action.” Viewers will be able to choose
                           people in Macau had two mobile phones. 3G        camera positions, and freeze or fast forward
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           has been available in Macau since 2005.          footage. They can also access chat rooms
                           Australian-based telecoms analyst Paul           and statistics on the IPL’s official website.
                           Budde said mobile communications and In-         With time, we will see video increasingly
                           ternet-related services looked like continu-     available on the mobile phone in India.
                           ing to be among the better performing
                           segments of the industry, boosted by partial     The mobile phone market in Indonesia
                           liberalisation of Macau’s telecom services       continues to expand at about 50 per cent a
                           market. “Macau has been busy adopting the        year, though it was difficult to get recent
                           Internet and the administration appears          data. By March 2007, the total mobile sub-
                           keen to encourage this,” Budde said.             scriber base had passed 65 million, up from
                           “Broadband Internet, using mainly DSL, has       12 million subscribers in 2002. By March
                           been developing quickly.” By 2009 the re-        2007 the country’s mobile penetration rate
                           gion had 368,000 Internet subscribers, in a      had reached almost 30 per cent, with consi-
                           population of 542,200.                           derable potential remaining for further
                                                                            growth in this market, telecoms analyst Paul
                           In India, the number of mobile phone sub-        Budde wrote on his web site. The mobile
                           scribers reached 391.76 million as of 31         subscriber base passed 130 million by Janu-
                           March 2009. Most Indians prefer sending          ary 2009. Indonesia’s mobile penetration
                           text messages (SMS) instead of calling be-       rate was approaching 55 per cent, Budde
                           cause it is cheaper. People use texts for a      said, and “considerable potential for further
                           wide range of reasons, including checking        growth” remained. “The operators have
                           their bank balance, paying bills, and check-     been scrambling to meet the anticipated de-
                           ing the status of trains and flights. Data       mand.” Budde said market interest had
                           from the Telecoms Regulatory Authority in        started to focus on the third generation
                           India (TRAI) in late 2009 showed Indians         (3G) services being offered by five opera-
                           sent an average of 29 SMS a month. If we         tors. “While 3G subscribers comprised only
                           multiply 29 by the ever-growing number of        around 7 per cent of the national subscriber
                           mobile phone subscribers we get an idea of       base by early 2009, the potential of 3G to
                           the huge number of SMS that Indians gen-         boost average revenue per user (ARPU) was
                           erate. News via SMS is popular with all age      not lost on the operators and competition
                           groups. The popularity of other subjects de-     was starting to heat up on the 3G front.
                           pends on age. Jokes are popular amongst          Telkomsel is indeed making its presence felt
                           people aged between 18 and 44. Astrology         in this market segment, claiming about 72
                           is most popular among the 45 to 54 age           per cent of the nine million 3G subscribers
                           group. More than half (57 per cent) of           at end-2008.” Indonesia had about 30 mil-
                           people aged 55 and older subscribe to in-        lion Internet users by early 2009,
                           formation about stocks, finance and busi-        representing a penetration of 12 per cent.
                           ness, TRAI said.                                 Broadband Internet access was “virtually
                                                                            non-existent,” Budde said, with broadband
                           In January 2010 Google announced a two-          subscriptions about 15 per cent of the total
                           year agreement with India’s cricket authori-     Internet subscriber base.
                           ties to broadcast live via YouTube all of the
                           games played in the Indian Premier League        By early 2009 almost all of the 27 million
                           (IPL). This is significant because of the size   people in Malaysia had a mobile phone,
                           of the audience. Lalit Modi, an IPL spokes-      giving the country the second highest mo-
                           man, said the deal changed the world of          bile penetration in South East Asia after
                           sports broadcasting. “The Internet has           Singapore. Growth has been phenomenal.
                           changed the lives of everyone and this will      In 1998 Malaysia had only 2 million mobile
                           do the same for sport. We are now taking         subscribers. Within a decade the number
                           our event truly global for the first time.       had jumped to 27 million (almost 100 per

Media Programme Asia       cent penetration). Malaysians are keen text-      The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, is one of       ers. The telecoms regulator, the Malaysian        the few cities in the world to have extensive
                           Communications and Multimedia Commis-             wireless Internet coverage. It came about
                           sion, said 73 billion SMS were sent in 2008       because three decades of war ruined most
Asia’s Media Innovators    – that’s an average of 2,700 per mobile           of the city’s land-based communications
by Stephen Quinn           phone user that year. A feature of 2009 was       networks. Afghanistan leads the world in
                           a significant push into 3G services. Broad-       the number of faults reported: 25 for every
                           band Internet penetration remains low.            100 landlines. The biggest users of the
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           From a lowly penetration of 1 per cent at         Internet in Kabul are not the Afghan people
                           the end of 2004, adoption had risen to            because most cannot afford the service. The
                           about 16 per cent of households by the            BBC’s Najieh Ghulami went to Afghanistan
                           end of 2008.                                      to look at the role the Internet plays in peo-
                                                                             ple’s lives. She said for some the Internet
                           Thailand’s mobile phone market reached            was life changing. Ghulami interviewed
                           67.5 million subscribers by late 2009, giving     Jamshid Sultanzada, an Internet entrepre-
                           the country almost 100 per cent penetra-          neur, who started taking evening classes at
                           tion. The mobile industry saw more than           a skills training centre during the years of
                           eight consecutive years of strong growth up       Taliban rule. “Students at this centre have
                           to 2009. Broadband Internet also grew vi-         to pay a small fee to attend. But the two
                           gorously in 2008, at an annual rate of about      educational skills taught there are seen by
                           60 per cent, though demand came from a            students and staff alike as crucial for a bet-
                           relatively small base. Data for 2009 were         ter life: learning English and mastering
                           not available. Overall broadband penetra-         computers,” Ghulami wrote on the BBC’s
                           tion still remained low, at 3 per cent in         web site. Many Afghanis saw the Internet as
                           2009. Thailand had about 6 million Internet       a tool for empowering their community, she
                           subscribers.                                      said. Most recently available data for
                                                                             Afghanistan in 2008 showed 5.4 million
                           Singapore had the highest penetration of          mobile phones in a population of 28.3
                           mobile phones (131 per cent) in South East        million (data came from the CIA Factbook),
                           Asia. In January 2009 there were 6.3 million      a penetration rate of 22 per cent.
                           subscribers. By early 2009 Singapore had
                           2.5 million 3G subscribers, a remarkable 40       In Japan, the telecommunications sector is
                           per cent of the total mobile subscriber base.     one of the most active markets in the world.
                           Singapore’s Wireless@SG initiative has es-        Strong competition was noted among mo-
                           tablished more than 5,000 public wi-fi hots-      bile operators in the 3G arena: 3G comprised
                           pots around the island. More than 90 per          95 per cent of the country’s mobile market,
                           cent of Singapore’s households had some           or about 105 million of the 110 million mo-
                           form of high-speed broadband Internet by          bile subscribers (more than 85 per cent of
                           2009, and this was expected to reach 100          the population). By early 2010 Japan had
                           per cent by 2010. The government has in-          more than 30 million broadband lines, mak-
                           itiated a huge project to build the Next          ing it the third largest broadband country in
                           Generation National Infocomm Infrastruc-          the world after the US and China. Japan’s
                           ture (Next Gen NII), an island-wide broad-        four main mobile operators – NTT DoCoMo,
                           band network, at an estimated cost of US$         KDDI (au), Softbank Mobile and eMobile –
                           1.2 billion. Singapore is a truly wired nation.   plan to invest up to US$10 billion in “3.9G”
                                                                                                     mobile services,
                                                                                                     offering end users
                                                                                                     the prospect of
                                                                                                     even better and
                                                                                                     faster options than
                                                                                                     they have today.
                                                                                                     The new networks
                                                                                                     will give perform-
                                                                                                     ance roughly similar
                                                                                                     to fibre-optic net-

Media Programme Asia       South Korea has one of the most vibrant         gives them a WiBro “Egg”. It consists of a       telecommunications markets in the world.        WiBro modem with a wifi card on it, plus a
                           More than 90 per cent of South Koreans          battery. This effectively provides them with
                           have at least one mobile phone. As of early     an individual roving wifi hotspot – giving
Asia’s Media Innovators    2009 the country had three main mobile          Internet access at any time and any place.
by Stephen Quinn           operators – SK Telecom held just over 50        The “Egg” offers 50Gb of monthly data
                           per cent of the market, KTF about 30 per        usage for about US$20 a month.
                           cent and LG Telecom almost 20 per cent.
May 2010 – Chapter Two
                           South Korea is considered a world leader in     Data traffic on mobiles
                           3G technologies and has the world’s highest     The Swedish mobile phone manufacturer
                           percentage of 3G users. South Korea also        Ericsson has calculated that data traffic on
                           has the world’s highest number of broad-        mobile phones exceeded voice traffic for the
                           band services per capita. By early 2009,        first time in December 2009. Ericsson based
                           about 90 per cent of households were broad-     its findings on measurements from live net-
                           band subscribers. South Korea was an early      works from around the world. It said data
                           adopter of triple-play models. A single pro-    traffic globally grew 280 per cent in each of
                           vider sells access to television, broadband     the previous two years, and was forecast to
                           Internet and voice telephony as a package       double annually over the next five years.
                           of services. Japan and South Korea rank         Ericsson measurements also showed traffic
                           first and second among OECD nations for         in 3G networks passed 2G-network traffic
                           broadband speeds. South Korea’s average         over the same period. The main reason was
                           speed is 78Mb/s compared with Japan’s           the growth of the use of smart-phones, and
                           average of 90Mb/s.                              the popularity of social networking sites on
                                                                           mobile devices. Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s
                           South Korea’s telecoms industry developed       president and CEO, described the change as
                           WiBro, or Wireless Broadband Internet. It       a significant milestone. About 400 million
                           was devised to overcome the data rate limi-     mobile broadband subscribers generated
                           tation of mobile phones and to add mobility     more data traffic than the voice traffic from
                           to broadband Internet. WiBro is the South       all of the 4.6 billion mobile subscribers around
                           Korean name for the IEEE 802.16e (mobile        the world, Vestberg said. “Our view that the
                           Wimax) international standard. SK Telecom       appeal of anywhere, anytime connectivity
                           and KTF (see previous paragraph for de-         would drive mobile broadband growth is
                           tails) launched a commercial service in June    confirmed by the real world measurements
                           2006. WiBro offers an average data speed        under taken by Ericsson.” Vestberg said so-
                           of 30 to 50 Mb/s per carrier and covers a       cial networking via mobile devices and mo-
                           radius of 1 to 5 kilometres. This means         bile broadband-based PCs accounted for a
                           people can access the Internet on portable      large percentage of mobile data traffic. For
                           devices like laptops. To put those speeds       example, more than 200 mobile operators
                           into perspective: Data speeds of about 18       in 60 countries were deploying and promot-
                           Mb/s are required for high-definition televi-   ing Facebook mobile products, with more
                           sion, so people can watch high-quality video    than 100 million active users.
                           via the Internet on the laptops. Hotspots for
                           public wireless services have a radius of       The Asian region continues to harness inno-
                           about 50 metres. With WiBro, people can         vation in exciting ways, and these will be
                           access the Internet while moving at up to       explored in later chapters.
                           120 km/h (74.5 miles per hour).
                           By comparison, wireless local area
                           networks offer mobility at up to
                           walking speed, and mobile phone
                           technologies provide access at up to
                           250 km/h. On 3 April 2007, KT
                           launched WiBro coverage for all
                           areas of the capital, Seoul, including
                           all subway lines. The author has tra-
                           veled on many of these lines and the
                           tunnels are often more than a kilo-
                           metre deep. People in South Korea
                           can subscribe to a package that

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