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SK marks 20th year of cell phone system

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Mar 29,2004
Cellular telephone service in Korea turned 20 yesterday. The service started in 1984 with 2,600 subscribers using car phones, and today, there are 34 million of the gadgets in use here. They are considered essential, correctly or not, by most Koreans. SK Telecom, originally known as Korea Mobile Telecommunications, celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday ― a decade as a government-run company and another decade as a private telecommunications company. SK Group took over Korea Mobile Telecommunications in July 1994 and changed its name in March 1997. The company was at first a subsidiary of Korea Telecom Authority, now KT. In July 2002, SK Telecom merged with Shinsegi Telecomm to form its present network. In 1986, the company started a pager service, which was popular here until the early 1990s because it was much less expensive than cell phone service. Four years after the first automobile cell phone service was launched in 1984, personal cell phone service began. In 1996, code division multiple access technology was introduced. In 2002, mobile handsets that could play video files hit the market. In July, subscribers will be able to watch television broadcasts over mobile phones via satellite. In 1984, cell phone services generated about 400 million ($346,000) in sales a year. As more providers jumped in the cell phone market, competition drove down prices and the number of users zoomed upward. In 1989, cell phone services drew 40,000 subscribers; their ranks grew to 2.7 million people in 1992, to 16 million in 1995 and to 34 million in 2003. SK Telecom has about half the cell phone users, who generated 9.5 trillion won in revenue last year. At the anniversary ceremony, SK Telecom spoke about its corporate vision for the future. “We will nurture new growth businesses such as satellite digital multimedia broadcasting services and home network business to secure the growth basis for another decade,” said Kim Shin-bae, the president of SK Telecom. Because the market for voice and data telecommunications is saturated, SK Telecom said, it also planned to try to do more business overseas. It created a task force to look for foreign opportunities early this month, a company official said. by Yum Tae-jung


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