SK Telecom and EarthLink launch U.S. wireless service

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SK Telecom and EarthLink launch U.S. wireless service

Facing a saturated market in Korea, SK Telecom Co. has launched a mobile phone/wireless Internet service in the United States, the company said yesterday. The service, branded “Helio” and operated as a joint venture with U.S. Internet service provider EarthLink, will provide a mobile blog service in an exclusive partnership with MySpace, a popular Web-based community site. SK Telecom and EarthLink invested 220 billion won ($234 million) each in January last year to form SK-EarthLink, which was later re-named Helio. The company will utilize mobile virtual network operators such as Verizon and Sprint to provide its services. Initially, Helio will enable MySpace bloggers to use a mobile platform and offer wireless Korean-language Internet services, mainly targeting Korean Americans. “At a point where Korean services operators must seek new growth engines, foreign expansion is an excellent new model that integrates communications services as well as exports of mobile contents and handsets,” said Kim Shin-bae, the president of SK Telecom. Meanwhile, SK Communications, another SK affiliate, is preparing to launch Cyworld in the United States later this month. The Web-based community portal has been widely successful in Korea. Its American incarnation is currently in a closed test service phase. “Selected users have been testing the service since December and it will soon be ready for the general public,” said Shin Hee-jung, an SK Communications official in Seoul. The American Cyworld will be run by SK Communications’ branch in San Francisco, which was established in October last year. SK Communications has high hopes for Cyworld’s U.S. debut, as the service has been hugely popular in Korea and China. Cyworld in Korea had 17 million members as of April. by Wohn Dong-hee

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