Korea’s LG U+, like SKT and KT, is betting big in Korea. All three operators have very aggressive plans to roll out LTE. Deployment of LTE started in July 2011 and 65,000 base-stations later, U+ has raised LTE pops coverage to 99% of the population. The base-station density is remarkable and the turn-around time is impressive… but why the aggressive roll-out?
Certainly U+ wanted to make sure it had the coverage in place to offer High Definition video streams that could be accessed in real-time. LTE is essential as U+ reported that HDTV users generate 4.9GB in traffic compared to non-HD TV users which generate 1.6 GB in traffic. The operator is also very keen to commercially launch Voice over LTE by October 2012.
These are all impressive financial metrics but the CEO of U+, Sangchul Lee, acknowledges that these “benefits” would be ephemeral if a structural redirection of their operations is also not realized. This is already in evidence with 3G. When 3G was first introduced, ARPUs were boosted substantially but the delta soon dissipated as end users started accessing regular WWW web sites and content on their smartphones.
However, Sangchul Lee, firmly believes LTE does provide operators a chance to get back into the driving seat in its relationship with the customer. What does the CEO of U+ believe is the lever to turn around the long term fortunes of the operators? Contextual knowledge & personalization. U+ states the operator is in a position to intensively “know” the customer.