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S. Korea’s major mobile carriers enjoy expanding 5G business in 2020

Logos of South Korea's three major mobile carriers (Yonhap)
Logos of South Korea's three major mobile carriers (Yonhap)

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled markets worldwide last year, South Korea’s three major mobile carriers have seen improved results from their investments in media and platform services, along with expanded 5G network businesses.

According to the latest report from market research firm FnGuide, the combined revenue of South Korea’s three major mobile carriers in 2020 are expected to reach 55.7 trillion won, up 2.4 percent on-year. The combined operating profit of the three mobile carriers is estimated at 3.4 trillion won, up 15.5 percent on-year.


SK Telecom

SK Telecom announced Wednesday its total revenue through last year went up 5 percent to 18.6 trillion won.

The company’s operating profit for the year also increased to 1.34 trillion won, up 21.8 percent on-year, while its net income climbed 74.3 percent to reach 1.5 trillion won from 860.7 billion won a year earlier.

The South Korean mobile carrier said improved performances of its mobile and media businesses boosted the company’s earnings.

SK Telecom’s mobile business accounted for 11.7 trillion won of sales through last year, up 2.8 percent on-year. Its operating profit too went up 7.5 percent to reach 1.02 trillion won.

The driving momentum, according to the company, was the increased number of subscriptions to 5G services, which hit 5.48 million as of the year’s end.

Non-telecommunications businesses also contributed, logging operating profits worth 326.2 billion won last year and thus accounting for 24 percent of the company’s total operating income last year -- compared to 14 percent in 2019.

The merger between SK Broadband, a subsidiary of SK Telecom, and the country’s No. 2 cable TV operator t-broad, in particular, accelerated the growth of the company’s media business, SK Telecom added.

Revenue of SK Telecom’s media business for the whole of last year reached 3.7 trillion won, up 17.2 percent on-year. Its operating profit too surged 59.2 percent at 230.9 billion won from a year earlier.

SK Telecom also enjoyed equity gains from SK hynix, in which the telecommunications firm holds 20.07 percent. 


LG U+

The market’s No. 3 player LG U+ said their total revenue in 2020 increased 8.4 percent to 13.4 trillion won, while its operating profit stood at 886.2 billion won, up 29.1 percent.

The company’s revenue from its mobile business grew 5.4 percent to 5.8 trillion won last year, on the back of an increasing number of subscriptions to its mobile network services.

The total number of subscriptions to the company’s mobile network services increased 9.2 percent to 16.65 million through last year, with its 5G subscriptions having shot up 136.6 percent to 2.75 million.

The company’s smart home business, which handles broadband and internet protocol television services, posted a 9.9 percent growth last year, with its revenue reaching 2.01 trillion won.


KT

KT’s operating income for 2020 is expected to go up 4.81 percent to 1.2 trillion won, according to a report published by market tracker FnGuide, Tuesday.

According to the market report, KT’s total revenue in 2020, however, is expected to decrease 1.8 percent to 23.8 trillion won.

The report said KT’s recent initiatives in non-telecommunications businesses are expected to overshadow losses from its subsidiaries and affiliates, including credit card payment service provider BC Card and KT’s property unit KT estate.

KT will reveal its annual performance report on Feb. 9 in a regulatory filing.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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