The death of SMS

11 Apr 2013

At the Broadband World Forum Asia event in Hong Kong yesterday, KT's EVP Tae-Yol Yoo was miles ahead of the other speakers in his candor, realism and likely accuracy of his forecasts.

His slide entitled "Rapidly collapsing legacy services" neatly summed up telcos', and specifically KT's, predicament:

-- KT's PSTN revenue has dropped from $5.4 billion in 2008 to $2.7 billion in 2012
-- Its mobile voice revenue fell from $6.2 billion in 2010 to $5.2 billion last year -- a 16% drop; that's despite the launch of LTE in 2011
-- OTT messaging (mostly KakaoTalk) in Korea has jumped from 100 million daily in 2010 to 4 billion now; Korea's telcos' text messages has fallen from 330 million daily in to 128 million during the same period

“Telcos' messaging is going to die,” he bluntly forecast. And judging from my $71 text messaging bill (mostly roaming charges) during my stay in Barcelona for MWC, that's going to be a lot sooner than most expect.

He also says you can't avoid mobile cannibalizing fixed broadband.

KT's mobile network is now burdened with handling an average of 2 Gbps per smartphone user -- up from just 10 Mbps a few years ago.

Since legacy services account for a fraction of its broadband revenue, he says "we have to find another way." He points to virtual goods as the new business model in the broadband era.

"Consumption of these virtual good is proportional to the number of broadband connections."

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