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2009/08/03 17:21 KST
KT to launch trial mobile service over wireless Internet

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's telecom giant KT Corp. said Monday it will launch as early as November a pilot mobile phone service using a homegrown wireless Internet technology known as WiBro.

   KT, South Korea's largest fixed-line telephone operator and second-largest mobile carrier, has started setting up networks and infrastructure needed for the service.

   WiBro, one of the world's major third-generation (3G) wireless Internet standards, is an improved version of WiMax, which enables broadband-like Web connectivity even when a user is in motion. WiMax refers to a wireless Internet technology developed by Intel Corp.

   Last December, the nation's telecommunications regulator Korea Communications Commission (KCC) decided to allow companies to provide the Internet mobile phone service based on WiBro. The move is designed to enable handset users to make calls at cheaper rates and to promote the use of WiBro, which will in turn help lay the groundwork for its inroads into overseas markets.

   WiBro is currently used only in Internet connections on laptop computers and other mobile devices.

   Industry watchers said several others are expected to follow suit.

   It is expected to stiffen competition in the country's near-saturated mobile phone industry, which is divided between three companies -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Telecom Inc.

   South Korea had 45.04 million mobile service users out of a population of 49 million as of July.