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Global Telecoms Business
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SK Telecom raising its profile as wireless pioneer

01 November 1999

SK Telecom, founded in 1984 as Korea Mobile Telecommunications Services, already has 9.5 million subscribers in Korea. SK Telecom pioneered use of CDMA digital cellular services and is focusing increasingly on wireless data opportunities. Jung Nam Cho, president of SK Telecom, talks to Basil Ballhatchet about the cellular market in Korea

SK Telecom, the leading cellular operator in South Korea, was founded as Korea Mobile Telecommunications Services in 1984. It started offering cellular services in 1988. By 1995 it had one million cellular and four million paging subscribers. In 1996 it launched the world's first CDMA cellular service. In 1997 the operator joined the SK Group and was renamed SK Telecom. It is also partly owned by South Korea's incumbent operator, Korea Telecom.

By the end of October 1999 SK Telecom had 9.33 million cellular phone subscribers, as cellular penetration exceeded the 40% level. Scott Brixen, telecoms equity analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, talks about the unexpected rate of cellular growth in South Korea: "If you go back two years and you pull out research reports, you will find that no one would have been within 20% of the penetration levels, where we are today in terms of the forecast. So the market has really surprised...