SK Telecom

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SK Telecom Co., Ltd.
Type Public
Traded as KRX: 017670
Industry Telecommunications
Founded March 29, 1984
Headquarters Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Key people Seong Min Ha, (CEO)
Products Mobile telephony, Wireless broadband services
Revenue Increase USD 13.601 billion (2010)[1]
Employees 20,955
Parent SK Group
Subsidiaries see this list

SK Telecom Co., Ltd. (Hangul: SK텔레콤 or 에스케이텔레콤) is a South Korean wireless telecommunications operator, controlled by the SK Group, one of the country's largest chaebol.

SK Telecom is a provider of mobile service in South Korea, with 50.5% of the market share as of 2008.[2] Since being established on March 29, 1984 the company evolved from a first generation analogue cellular system, to second generation CDMA, then to the world's first third generation synchronized IMT-2000 cellular system. SK Telecom also became the world’s first to commercialize HSDPA in May, 2006.

The company’s current services include NATE, a wired and wireless integrated multi-Internet service, June, a multimedia service, MONETA, a financial service, Telematic service such as NATE Drive and even Digital Home service. In 2004, SK Telecom launched Hanbyul, the world’s first DMB satellite. The carrier currently provides satellite DMB to its subscribers through its subsidiary TU Media Corp. SK Telecom also offers a variety of internet services, many through its subsidiary SK Communications. Cyworld is one of the most popular blogging services in South Korea and NateOn is one of the most popular instant messengers.


SK Telecom was established in March 1984 under the name Korea Mobile Telecommunications Services Corp., but was renamed Hankuk Idong Tongshin Corp. in May 1988. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of the state monopoly phone company, Korea Telecom. In June 1994 SK Group (Formerly Sunkyong Group) became Hankuk Idong Tongshin's largest shareholder. Hankuk Idong Tongshin officially joined the SK Group in January 1997 and changed its name to SK Telecom in March of that year. In October 2000, SK Telecom became the second operator in the world after NTT's DoCoMo to launch a commercial 3G service using W-CDMA technology. In January 2002, this was followed up by launching the world's first CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network, offering greatly increased data transmission speeds.

In May 2005, SK Telecom decided to sell 60% of SK Teletech stock to Pantech. In 2006, SK Teletech has changed its brand name to "SKY" and remains as Pantech's mobile phone line.

In the company's early stages (1984–1993), it launched a mobile phone service for automobiles and paging service. In March 1984, the company started as Korea Mobile Telecommunication Service. In May 1984, the company kicked off mobile communication service for automobiles. In July 1988, the company launched mobile Telecommunication Service.

In the company's privatization stage (1994–1996), through privatization, Korea Mobile Telecommunications Service became part of SK Group. Since then, the company established foothold in the global market with world’s first commercialization of CDMA technology. In June 1994, the company SK Group becomes largest shareholder. In January 1995, the company achieved 1 million subscriber mark. In June 1996, the company became the third Korean company to be listed in NYSE(ADR).

In the company's international stage (1997–2000), Hankuk Idong Tongshin was transformed to SK Telecom. SK Telecom also became the 6th company in the world to surpass 10 million subscriber mark. The company also began constructing the Northeast Asian CDMA belt encompassing China, Japan, Vietnam, and the whole Asian continent. In March 1997, the company name changed to SK Telecom. In October 1997, the company launched online service NETSGO. In June 1998, the company SK Telink Corp. started commercial overseas call service. In December 1998, the company SK Teletech Corp. launched first mobile handset. In April 1999, the company joined mobile comm. project in Mongolia. In July 1999, the company launched TTL, a telecommunication brand targeting the youth market . In Oct. 1999, the company started wireless internet service n.TOP. In Dec. 1999, the company surpassed 10 million subscriber mark. In Oct. 2000, the company launched world’s first commercial service for CDMA2000. In Dec. 2000, the company won contract on asynchronous IMT-2000 (WCDMA) service.

In the company's ubiquitous age (2001–2007), it began wired/wireless multimedia service era and began efforts to combine and converge mobile communication service. In the meantime, the company started seeking new value-creating models such as M-Commerce and satellite DMB Service. In Jan. 2002, the company completed merger of Sinsegi Communications. In Jan. 2002, the company launched world’s first synchronous IMT-2000 commercial service. In March 2002, the company started global roaming between countries adapting CDMA or GSM services. In April 2002, the company signed contract with Pelephone in Israel to provide wireless Internet platform. In July 2002, the company signed MOU with China Unicom to establish a joint venture. In Nov. 2002, the company launched mobile multimedia service June. In Nov. 2002, the company launched mobile payment service MONETA. In July 2003, the company started commercialized CDMA service in Vietnam. In Aug. 2003, the company June became the world’s first 3G service to get 1 million subscribers. In Feb. 2004, the company won certificate to establish UNISK, a joint corporate with China Unicom. In March 2004, the company launched world’s first DMB satellite. In November 2004, the company opened Melon, wired/wireless music portal service. In April 2005, the company started ‘1mm’ service. In November 2005, the company opened ‘Loview’, a digital photo frame service. In December 2005, the company reached 4 million subscriber base for Melon. In Janunary 2006, the company achieved sales record over 10 trillion KRW. In May 2006 the company commercialized handset-type HSDPA for the first time in the world. In May 2006, the company advanced into the U.S. mobile communication market with Helio. In June 2006 the company signed strategic partnership with China Unicom and purchased CB worth 1 billion USD. In June 2006, the company started commercial Wibro service. In April 2007 the company S-Fone in Vietnam reached 2 million subscriber mark. In April 2007, the company launched TD-SCDMA project with Chinese government.

In 2013 SK Telecom became the first provider in the world to offer a publicly accessible LTE-Advanced network. This coincided with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A, which offered a step-up CPU (Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 vs. Qualcomm Snapdragon 600) from the regular model and also LTE-Advanced capabilities. SK Telecom supported this handset at launch.[3]

On July 6, 2013, it was reported that Apple was in talks with Korean mobile carrier, SK Telecom, to release the next gen iPhone on SK's LTE Advanced network.[4]


As of September 2012, SK Telecom operates 2G IS-95/CDMA 2000, 3G WCDMA/HSPA+, 4G Mobile WiMAX, and LTE network.

Frequencies used on SKTelecom Network in Korea
Frequency Frequency Width Protocol Class Note
800 MHz (824~829,869~874) 10 MHz CDMA 2G
850 MHz (829~839,874~884) 20 MHz LTE 3.9G Band 5 (main frequency)
1800 MHz (1715~1725,1730~1735,1810~1830) 35 MHz LTE 3.9G New band 3
1800 MHz (1755~1765,1850~1860) 20 MHz LTE 3.9G Be returned by 1Q 2014
2100 MHz (1930~1960, 2120~2150) 60 MHz UMTS/HSPA 3.5G
2300 MHz (2300~2327) 27 MHz Mobile WiMAX 3.9G

2G network supports CDMA(IS-95), CDMA2000, and EV-DO. EV-DO handsets are marked with its service name "June". 3G network supports WCDMA, HSPA, and HSPA+. SK Telecom has the best HSPA+ coverage in South Korea. HSPA+ is available in 50+ major cities and towns, while KT HSPA+ is available in selected metropolitan areas. 3.9G LTE, which uses both band 5 and band 3, supports multi-carrier technology, claiming that SK Telecom is the first operator with LTE multi carrier.

From May 2005 to September 2012, SK Telecom provided S-DMB by its subsidiary TU Media(later SK Telink). S-DMB service was ceased in September 2012 after significant loss in its final years.[5]

SK Telecom also provides convergence services in entertainment, business and finance.

  • MelOn: Introduced in November 2004, MelOn is SK Telecom's music service, which allows users to download or stream music over the internet, such as on mobile phones. The music can be played on mobile phones, digital audio players, portable media players and digital cameras. Users can also create their own ring tones. In 2009, LOEN Entertainment (now owned by SKT by the time being) became the company-in-charge of MelOn. There is also an Indonesian version of MelOn in cooperation with PT Telkom Indonesia.
  • m-Finance: m-Finance, a financial manager introduced in 2001, allows users to take charge of all their financial transactions. Properly equipped mobile phones can do basic banking such as wire transferring and checking balances as well as stock trading and credit card services. Users can also withdraw cash from ATMs through the mobile phones.
  • Digital Home: Digital Home allows users to control and monitor home appliances, lighting, security systems and fire alarms remotely. The service also incorporates mobile communications networks, high-speed internet and cable broadcasting networks.
  • Mobile RFID (m-RFID): Phones with embedded RF readers give users vital information about products before users purchase them. SK Telecom has tested this technology for six applications including, safety, authentication, package tracking, supply chain management, digital content usage and location-based services.

International markets[edit]

SK Telecom is currently putting its efforts in expanding into global markets, such as Vietnam, U.S., and China. The company is also forging strategic alliances with other global carriers and IT businesses.


In 2000, SK Telecom first entered China, later forming a joint venture with China Unicom for wireless Internet service in February 2004. This joint venture between a foreign and local company, UNISK, is the first of its kind in China.

In 2006, SK Telecom bought $1 billion worth of convertible bonds of China Unicom Hong Kong, a China Unicom enterprise and agreed to cooperate in joint sourcing of handsets, development of additional services, platform development, marketing and distribution, customer relationship management, and network development. One result of this partnership is jointly developing handsets to be sourced by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.

In August 2006, SK Telecom signed an MOU making it the first non-Chinese company to participate in the TD-SCDMA Project. Under the agreement SK Telecom will work with China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on development of TD-SCDMA, China's 3G mobile telecom technology standard.

United States[edit]


On January 26, 2005, SK Telecom announced that it had formed a $440 million joint venture with Earthlink to form a new US mobile carrier named SK-Earthlink, later that year, the company name was changed to Helio. Combined with Earthlink, Helio is expected to offer a variety of advanced mobile devices, many of which are currently for sale in Korea. These models would be refined and updated for use by tech-savvy American consumers, allowing for the first time handsets with functionalities previously unavailable in the US market.

The now defunct venture operated on the premise of being a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), using CDMA 1xEVDO network capacity leased from Sprint Nextel. In 2007, SK Telecom began talks to purchase a stake in Sprint Nextel,[6] however by 2008 it had backed away from the deal.[7]

On June 27, 2008, it was reported that Helio was being acquired in an all stock deal by Virgin Mobile- for a net acquisition price of $39 million – in stark contrast to the $500 million investment in the venture. All staff were eliminated and the company ceased as a going concern[8]

Mobile Money Ventures[edit]

On March 6, 2008, SK Telecom launched Mobile Money Ventures, a joint venture with Citibank. MMV designs, develops, implements, and supports mobile financial services solutions on a global scale. Its Mobile Money Platform can support existing mobile banking services as well as next generation services like P2P payments and NFC payments.[9]

On March 28, 2011, SK Telecom made a surprise bid to acquire bankrupt movie/game rental company Blockbuster Inc. SK bid $284.5 million for Blockbuster, but ended up losing to Dish Network.

SK Telecom Americas Innopartners[edit]

On March 4, 2014, SK telecom announced that its US corporation SK Telecom Americas completed the establishment of the startup accelerator SK Telecom Americas Innopartners.[10] The accelerator invests in early stage core technology startups. It is set up to incubate 11 startups at the same time, an currently is hosting three of them (Etopus, N43, Pavilion Data).[11]


Main article: S-Fone

In September 2001, SK Telecom established S-Telecom, Business Cooperation Contract (BCC) in Vietnam and SPT (Saigon Postel), a Vietnamese company with a CDMA license.

S-Telecom, the first CDMA mobile phone service provider in Vietnam, launched commercial service in July 2003 and has upgraded its system to CDMA2000 1xEV-DO to meet the growing demand from customers. Currently the company is providing services to 64 cities including Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi under the S-Fone brand.

As of October 2006, the company was providing EV-DO wireless internet services in five major cities including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. S-Fone subscribers reached two million in April 2007, a little over three years after its start.


SK Telecom has a number of subsidiaries that support its growth. In 2006, SK Communications strengthened its linked services with SK Telecom, strengthening Korea’s top community portal Cyworld, and developing its model into a global business. Currently, Cyworld services are expanding in Asia, Europe and North America. At home, NATE ON is the leading messenger service in 2006, with more than 13 million users. SK Telink, an international telephony company, launched international Korean SMS services in the U.S., and now operates in more than 170 countries. TU Media, the nationwide satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) service, is also making fast growth, attracting more than 1 million subscribers in 2006.

SK Communications[edit]

Main article: SK Communications

Since its 2002 launch as an online portal service provider, SK Communications has grown to be one of the most popular Internet portals in Korea. The largest online community site in Korea, Cyworld has seen a sharp rise in its users, with members reaching 20 million from 16 million in 2005. SK Communications also provides the top instant messaging service NateOn. As of December 2006, NATE ON had 13 million users and led the local market. In 2006, the portal refreshed its site as a Web 2.0 customer-focused portal with an emphasis on social bookmarking, personalized content and community services. Cyworld II also re-launched with Web 2.0 offerings, including a personalized mini-homepage, personalized search, UCC video and other Web-based applications that offer user-customization services.

The company is currently extending its online businesses into the global market. In 2006, SK Communications opened up its Cyworld services in China, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., and Vietnam. To make full use of its premium base, the company is building a portfolio of high-quality content providers, including education company Etoos; consumer shopping services under the Cymarket brand, which leverage Cyworld’s network and traffic; gaming subsidiary SK i-media; and Egloos, the leading independent blogging service in Korea. In addition, the company acquired a significant stake (24.4%) in powerful online search engine, Empas, for KRW 37.2 billion.

SK Planet[edit]

SK Planet is a mobile solutions subsidiary of SK headquartered in Pangyo. Business areas include digital contents, integrated commerce and marketing communication.

Its October 2011 launch marked the reorganization of T Store.[12] SK Planet launched qiip, an app store in Japan.[13] 11st is one of the biggest online store complexes in South Korea under the management of SK Planet.[14] Other products include Smart Wallet, a mobile wallet service, OK Cashbag, an integrated mileage service, and Gifticon, a mobile voucher service. As part of the integrated commerce strategy these services are being combined under the brand Syrup.[15]

SK Telink Corp[edit]

Main article: SK Telink

SK Telink was established in April 1998 as an international telephony service provider and has grown into a major player in the international calling market. Under the brand name 00700, the company provides international call services. Building on the commercial long-distance telephony and value-added services launched in 2005, the company began offering Korean text messaging in June 2006 in the U.S. The service allows subscribers send and receive Korean text messages in the U.S., as well as to and from Korea.

TU Media Corp.[edit]

Main article: TU Media

Established in December 2003, TU Media Corp. introduced a new digital media service— satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB). Subscribers can now view satellite TV broadcasts on their portable handsets or via vehicle-mounted terminals. As of December 2006, subscribers to TU Media topped 1 million, up from 372,000 in 2005. Its nationwide DMB is available on 37 channels, consisting of 16 video, 20 audio and one data, and provides programs on education, games, drama, music, news and culture. In 2006, TU Media launched TUBOX, a pay-per-view movie channel that allows subscribers to see movies prior to DVD release. In addition to South Korea's 84 cities, TU Media provides service in express highways and Seoul metropolitan subways. In 2006 the company expanded its satellite DMB coverage to include the Korea Train eXpress (KTX) Seoul to Busan line, Busan subways and 10 metropolitan Seoul local highways. In 2010 the company was merged by SK Telink, which is the best international call service provider in Korea. In 2 years SDMB Service was stopped, because SDMB was not the good solution for people to watch mobile TV anymore. TU Media and its service disappeared for ever.


Further information: iriver and ReignCom

iriver Inc. (formerly ReignCom) is a South Korean electronics and entertainment company founded in 1999 by seven former Samsung executives. SK Telecom acquired it from Vogo Fund in 2014.[16]

Employee conditions[edit]

SK Telecom has its own workers union. SK Telecom abides by the Korean Labor Law and is executing a retirement age of 58. Unless an employee commits a crime more serious than imprisonment or an act in violation of ethical management of SK Telecom, employees are guaranteed to work until they reach the retirement age. SK Telecom follows a management system called SKMS (SK Management System), created by SK Companies.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]