On the Hot Seat with KTF’s Byungki Oh

FierceWireless Editor Brian Dolan recently caught up with Korea Telecom Freetel's (KTF) director and head of global strategy Byungki Oh to discuss the GSM Association's Mobile Innovation Program Awards, trends in the Korean wireless industry and what it takes to make an impact on that country's market. KTF is the second largest operator in Korea with more than 13 million subscribers and an HSPA network that Oh says covers 99 percent of the nation's population. Oh says KTF has 1.53 million HSPA users.

FierceWireless: Which applications do well in the Korean market? What are some of the trends you are seeing in Asia? I would guess mobile music is popular.

Oh: Mobile music is a big one. In Korea, the mobile music industry has clearly succeeded over online music. KTF and SK Telecom have each launched an MP3, ringtone and ringback services. Mobile makes up more than half of the total music industry in Korea, I'd say it makes up about 70 percent of total music industry and revenues. So the other types of distribution offline are very small. And the online portals that provide MP3s, they cannot really measure up to the mobile operators' market share in music.

FierceWireless: What about mobile financial services?

Oh: Mobile commerce is another good one. We started with mobile commerce and also mobile banking. Micropayments came soon after, but then we started putting credit cards into contactless chips in the phones. We are currently working on this project that uses near-field communications. We will be demonstrating this technology at Macau (GSMA Asia.) We are currently conducting trials with Mastercard for these credit card NFC services in Korea.
On the Hot Seat with KTF’s Byungki Oh