KT wants end to OTT "free riding"

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net
KT CEO Lee Suk-chae has reignited the debate over net neutrality in South Korea, by calling on the nation's big technology companies to pay for use of the operator's networks.
 
At a technology forum attended by The Korea Times, Lee warned that he believes Korea will “see a big data blackout” if OTT players don't agree to help pay for the rapid growth in data traffic that they are contributing to.
 
“There’s no free lunch. It doesn’t make sense to ride free on networks,” The Times quoted Lee as saying.
 
Lee said network traffic has swelled 153 times since smartphones first launched in South Korea three years prior. He said this was causing huge network investment burdens for the nation's operators, and forcing them to raise funds for the investments from their own customers.
 
The traffic growth is also impacting operators' earnings. In March, KT reported a 26.6% slump in first quarter profit despite a 9% increase in revenue.
 
Lee's comments are believed to be addressed at technology companies including LG and Samsung, as well as the government.

KT has already started exploring measures to ease the cost burden of over-the-top content. In February, the company briefly blocked OTT content for Samsung's internet-enabled TVs, and threatened to do the same for LG unless it trump up carriage costs. But when regulator KCC objected, KT lifted the ban after just four days.
 
While KT has been the most outspoken proponent of content providers sharing the cost of network investments, rivals LG U+ and SK Telecom have also expressed concerns about the level of OTT content flowing through their networks.

Commentary

5G and data center-friendly network architectures

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Rémy Pascal / Analysys Mason

The launch of 5G by South Korean operators serves as a first benchmark for other operators around the world