THE WRAP: SK Telecom buys spectrum, Telstra's new NBN snag
It was the week that saw SK Telecom score some high-priced spectrum, as Telstra hit new regulatory hurdles over the NBN and New Zealand officially turned its ISPs into copyright cops.
SK Telecom came out victorious in South Korea’s highly contested 1.8GHz spectrum auction, but only after paying a whopping 995 billion won (€657 million) for the licenses.
That’s more than double the initial bid price of 446 billion won, which is why rival operator KT finally walked away from the bidding.
It was also the week that saw the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) throw a spanner in the works of Telstra's plan to migrate its customers to the NBN, stating that the proposal cannot be accepted in its current form.
The ACCC says it’s not happy that Telstra has yet to come up with a compliance plan to structurally separate its wholesale and retail operations by 2018 – a requirement of the deal reached with NBN Co to move its customers to the NBN. Telstra said it would try to reach a détente with the ACCC before its AGM on October 18.
Telstra wasn’t the only telco hit by regulatory problems this week. Over in the US, the Department of Justice filed suit to block AT&T’s planned $39 billion (€27 billion) acquisition of T-Mobile USA on the grounds that it violates anti-trust regulations.
It was also the week that saw New Zealand’s controversial “three strikes” law take effect. The law requires ISPs to send out warning notices to users caught engaging in piracy, and impose fines after the third notice. Some ISPs are worried they’ll be inundated with infringement notices, and that they’re not ready to enforce the policy in any case.
In business news for the week, NTT DoCoMo and KT rounded out their partnership deal with an agreement to share Android apps and content.
Softbank will offload the bulk of its 4% stake in Yahoo to help pay down debt, though the sale will not affect Softbank's 40% stake in Yahoo Japan; and Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA reportedly plan to invest at least $100 million in mobile wallet joint venture Isis, which is a direct competitor to Google Wallet.
Results for the week: SmarTone Telecommunications more than doubled its profit for the year ending in June, on the back of strong subscriber growth and smartphone sales; ZTE reported a 12.3% drop in H1 net profit, despite revenue growing 21.5%; and mobile messaging firm Synchronica generated a 2Q net loss of $2.04 million compared to a loss of $83,000 in 2Q10.
It was also the week that saw fresh news on LTE devices. Samsung announced LTE variants of its Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab devices, although it offered no details on availability and pricing.
Samsung also – accidentally – confirmed it is working on the next Google Nexus smartphone via a cease and desist letter sent by its legal team warning against disclosing details of a device known as the Nexus Prime, according to Geek.com
Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies announced it will launch the world's first TD-LTE router in October. The router will support TDD and FDD variants of LTE, and provide support for up to 32 Wi-Fi devices.
The week’s iPhone 5 Rumor: the screen may be smaller than expected. While the rumor mill has long held that the phone will have a 4.2-inch screen, Taiwan component industry sources told DigiTimes that the screen will be under four inches.
And finally, it was the week in which we learned what Hong Kong’s citizens do with their smartphones.
Google previewed results of an upcoming global smartphone survey they conducted with Ipsos Research that covers 30 markets worldwide, including 11 in Asia. The full results won’t be out for a couple of months, but Google released the findings for Hong Kong.
Among the findings: 37% of Hong Kong smartphone users use their devices to compare or learn about products in stores, and 22% said they’ve decided not to buy a product they otherwise might have bought after using smartphones to comparison-shop. Google’s Ryan Hayward said the findings in Hong Kong indicate that smartphone usage is creating serious opportunities for local advertisers, developers and merchants.