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1 million sign up for Web TV after just nine months

Less than a year after being legalized, IPTV is a hit, with growth accelerating

Oct 10,2009
By Lee Eun-joo
In the first nine months since its launch in Korea, Internet protocol television services have attracted 1 million subscribers, a milestone reached yesterday, according to the Korea Digital Media Industry Association.

Instead of using traditional broadcast or satellite signals, IPTV piggybacks television signals on Internet connections to offer both. Three companies currently provide the service in Korea: KT Corporation, SK Broadband and LG Dacom.

As it became clear the format was finding an audience, Kim In-kyu, chairman of the KDMIA, triumphantly announced the news, saying, “The merging of broadcasting and telecommunications is bearing substantial fruit.”

Over the last year, the government has been working to ease regulations on IPTV services, as it sees the industry as a new growth engine for the country. In December, the National Assembly passed the IPTV law, allowing telecom firms to provide real-time television services using their broadband networks. Since then, Koreans have signed up for IPTV more quickly than other new media services, including cable television and satellite broadcasting.

Vice President of KT Media BU Cho Jin-young, left, also head of its Media Planning Department, poses with Kim Eun-kyung, the 1 millionth subscriber to Korea’s Internet protocol television services, yesterday at the Korea Digital Media Industry Association in Chungjeongno, central Seoul. Kim received a free three-year coupon for QOOK TV. [YONHAP]
For example, it took more than four years for 1 million people to sign up for cable here, and almost two years for satellite television.

How has IPTV become so popular so quickly? The KDMIA credits improved service quality and expanded infrastructure.

“A television was perceived nothing but as an ‘idiot box’ in the past,” Kim said. “But now it isn’t, at least not after it has been digitalized with IPTV service. A television could even be a ‘smart box’ if utilizing all the developed services offered.”

Lee Eun-kyung, 29, the one millionth user to sign up, subscribed yesterday because she was impressed by the integration of different services. Even regional governments are using IPTV services to offer students from lower-income households access to educational materials. Currently, there are 19 after-school centers with televisions that run on IPTV, and that number is expected to reach 1,500 by the end of next year.

Meanwhile, Chairman Kim at the KDMIA expects the number of subscribers to reach 1.5 million by the end of this year and 2 million early next year. In fact, the increase in the number of subscribers has been accelerating in recent months. It took IPTV providers six months to recruit 500,000 subscribers, but less than three months from there to reach 1 million.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]



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