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Research by Country/Region January 22, 2018  
Korea: Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

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A. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY GOVERNING ACCESS TO THE WORLDWIDE FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS BAND (3.4 TO 3.7 GHZ), LMDS (28 TO 31 GHZ), AND UNLICENSED BANDS
      The Radio and Broadcasting Bureau in the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) develops policy governing access to the worldwide access band, LMDS, and unlicensed bands. MIC clearly states that current government policy is planned to maximize the efficiency of spectrum use since the spectrum resource is limited and becoming more valuable. Portions of the spectrum resource may require re-allocation for better utilization in the future. MIC’s current spectrum policy is based on efficient use of the in Ultra high Frequency (UHF) band between 300MHz – 3GHz. For instance, licenses for Wireless Local Loop (WLL) service on 2.3GHz, had not used the spectrum efficiently and was withdrawn in early 2003 from KT and Hanaro. It will be re-allocated for portable Internet services, which are expected to substitute for any BFW service. Since Korea has not yet had strong spectrum allocation demands from the Korean telecom industry for other services, there are no impending government policy plans for unlicensed bands. The following information indicates what services are being used in the frequency bands 3.4GHz – 3.7GHz, 24.75GHz – 27GHz and 28GHz – 31 GHz.
      Spectrum (GHz) Service in Korea Application
      3.4 – 3.6 Fixed Wireless Auxiliary Broadcasting for data transmission
      3.6 – 3.625 Satellite Inmarsat for Maritime communication
      3.625 – 3.7 Fixed Wireless Auxiliary Broadcasting for data transmission

24.75 – 27 Fixed Wireless Broadband WLL (BWLL)

28 – 28.5 Unlicensed
28.5 – 29.5 Satellite
29.5 – 30 Unlicensed
30 – 31 Military

B. DEMAND OR NEED FOR BFW SERVICES
      BFW service can be categorized into three different services in Korea: Wireless LAN (WLAN) in 2.4GHz and 5.7GHz spectrum, which are in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band, assigned by International Telecommunication Union (ITU); WLL in 2.3GHz; and BWLL in 24GHz. BFW service for last-mile connections to homes is not essential for Korea to save costs in broadband infrastructure, since the country is densely populated and Korean homes and offices are already wired in Digital Subscribers Line (DSL)/Cables/LANs. The number of wired broadband Internet subscribers already reached nearly 11 million of 47 million people in 2002, driven by MIC’s policy to connect the nation with broadband services. MIC is considering the extension of fiber optics or cables in the long run to allow higher bandwidth for the next generation broadband infrastructure. The demand for WLAN service in 2.4GHz, provided by KT and Hanaro, is starting to rise in 2003 and will continue to attract more subscribers for the next couple of years as a value-added service until portable Internet service is licensed in 2.3GHz, which will eventually replace WLAN. WLL is no longer in service, and the demand for BWLL service is not high in Korea.
C. LICENSING
      BFW service providers require operating licenses except for services in the ISM band assigned by the ITU. For example, in the 2.4GHz ISM band, if service providers meet technical standards requirements, such as the radio wave type, antenna power, purpose of service, etc., for low power radio equipment, any company is allowed to provide services. Currently KT and Hanaro are providing Wireless LAN (WLAN) service on the 2.4GHz ISM band and are also considering the launch of WLAN service in 5.7GHz ISM band. Since the revision of the Korean Enforcement Ordinance in April 2000 for non-ISM band spectrums such as 2.3HGz, companies need to apply for a spectrum license only if MIC publicly announces a spectrum allocation plan. By the end of 2003, MIC will determine when to re- allocate the 2.3GHz band for the portable Internet service. When the plan is announced, companies can apply for a spectrum license and will be selected through the comparative hearing allocation process. Korea does not follow a bidding process for spectrum allocation.

      Contacts:

      Byung-Lark Jeong
      Deputy Director
      Frequency Division
      Radio and Broadcasting Bureau
      Ministry of Information and Communication
      Tel: +82-2750-2443
      Email: bljeong@mic.go.kr
      Responsible for public announcement on the spectrum allocation

      HoeSoo Kim
      Assistant Deputy Director
      Communication Planning Division
      Telecommunication Business Promotion Bureau
      Ministry of Information and Communication
      Tel: +82-2-750-1312
      Email: hoesookim@mic.go.kr
      Responsible for licensing service providers

D. FOREIGN OWNERSHIP LIMITS
      MIC currently allows up to 100% foreign ownership for simple international resale services interconnected to the Public Switch Telephone Network and a limit of up to 49% foreign ownership in Type 1, facilities-based wireline and wireless services, including BFW services.

E. INTERCONNECTION TARIFFS
      There are no standard tariffs governing BFW or wireline broadband interconnection with local telcos in Korea. MIC is planning to draft a standard regulation for broadband interconnection within the next two years. Because BFW service providers are the network operators, there is no interconnection issue. In wireline broadband Internet interconnection, the service providers have to negotiate separately with local network operators.
F. OTHER POLICIES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING BFW
      There are no other special policies and regulations governing BFW. The policies and regulations that apply are the same as for Type 1 facilities-based operators under the Telecommunication Basic Act and Radio Waves Act. BFW service is offered as a value-added service in addition to wireline broadband access service.

G. TO WHAT EXTENT ARE BFW SERVICES BEING OFFERED BY DOMESTIC OR INTERNATIONAL FIRMS?
      Korean telcos currently offer WLAN service. KT and Hanaro have invested and promoted hotspot WLAN service for public Internet access in major cities, and KT has set up 9,000 public hotspots. KT and Hanaro are now offering WLAN as a value-added service to existing home subscribers. Because of Korea’s extremely high wired penetration, there is no demand for WLL service. Hanaro is offering BWLL service to 50,000 subscribers.
H. CURRENT LIST OF BFW ACCESS PROVIDERS
              WLAN (2002. Feb) WLL BWLL
      KT 2.4GHz (ISM) withdrawn 24.75 – 27GHz
      Hanaro 2.4GHz (ISM) withdrawn 24.75 – 27GHz
      Dacom 2.4GHz (ISM) - Allocated but not in service

      KT launched WLAN service in Feb. 2002. As of March 2003, KT has 150,000 subscribers for WLAN. Hanaro has 10,000 subscribers for WLAN and 50,000 subscribers for BWLL service. The subscription rate for WLAN is still relatively low compared to that for broadband wireline Internet, which is almost 11 million. The demand for WLAN is expected to rise among offices. Small and medium-sized Korean local manufacturers are the primary suppliers of Access Point (AP) equipment at low prices to the service providers.

I. CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES, AND IMPORT DUTIES
      Most equipment enters Korea at a zero percent duty under the tariff schedules of WTO’s International Technology Agreement (ITA), including wireless equipment under HS code 8525 switches, base stations, transmission, and repeaters.

      At present, all telecommunications-related equipment is subject to type approval and EMC testing. Both type approval and EMC tests are conducted at the Radio Research Laboratory (RRL) under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and Communication. The procedures to be followed in obtaining RRL’s certification are extremely complex, making it very difficult, if not impossible without the assistance of a local representative, for foreign suppliers to satisfy all the technical requirements set forth by the RRL. For this reason, many U.S. suppliers have found it to their advantage to have their Korean agents/distributors or importers engage the services of one the 30 companies licensed in Korea as RRL testing agencies to handle the entire test process on behalf of the U.S. suppliers. Korea does not accept test data from American laboratories or manufacturers; testing reports from independent laboratories are considered supportive of the application, but not a substitute for official certification. U.S. companies can obtain complete information, including the lists of items subject to type approval, type official approval or type registration, or EMC registration, and certification fees through the following website: http://approval.rrl.go.kr/eng/index.html.

      Please refer to the Radio Research Laboratory (RRL) web site below for details about certification.

      http://www.rrl.go.kr/eng, http://approval.rrl.go.kr/eng/
RESPONSE INFORMATION

This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Seoul, Korea, in June 2003. For further clarification please contact:

Chris Ahn
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Seoul
Chris.Seoul@mail.doc.gov

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