South Korea’s largest fixed-line telecommunications company, KT Corp, together with Samsung initiated a test-run of a WiBro phone during the APEC Conference 2005 in Korea.
The limited test-run is now underway in Busan with a limited roll-out using 500 handsets for Pacific Rim leaders, senior government officials and foreign journalists.
Samsung will introduce the H1000 WiBro mobile phone and the Samsung M8000 PDA with WiBro and a WiBro interface card for laptops.
The demonstration is aimed to collect feedback on how the new technology would work. It is also aimed at publicizing the up-to-date technology during the APEC which gets global media attention.
WiBro is one of KT’s ambitious and costly projects to find a new revenue stream for the former state telephone monopoly, which is struggling with a shrinking wired telephone market as more customers rely on their mobile phones to communicate.
KT will also start its commercial WiBro service as early as June of 2006 with the aim of attracting as many as 4 million subscribers to the service by 2010.
WiBro, the Korean based “Wimax”, is competing with the WiMAX wireless broadband technology heavily pushed by Intel.
The technology, named WiBro – short for wireless broadband – is designed to deliver high-speed Internet connections to mobile phones, promising to allow people to watch high-definition television programs via handsets in a moving vehicle or on a street.
KT hopes the new technology would help provide speedier and cheaper connections for mobile phones, thus helping develop a new revenue source for it.
On Saturday, a KT technician said the new technology can send data at a speed of up to one megabit per second, which is equivalent to conventional fixed-line broadband Internet.
In reality, however, the speed was slower than expected, though the technician said he was unable to measure it.
And the phone’s screen size, which measures about 3 inches diagonally, is too small to surf the Internet. What’s worse, only specially designed Internet sites for smaller screens can be properly accessed by the phone.
KT has not given a price for the WiBro phone and service, but they are expected to be more expensive than current technologies.