KTF's CEO announcing 3G iPhone for South Korea

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iPhone coming in South Korea?

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02-28-2008 18:21

KTF Looks to CIS, Africa

KTF's CEO Cho Young-chu

By Cho Jin-seo

Staff Reporter

KTF is to start mobile phone services in Africa or in former Soviet-bloc countries this year through joint ventures with local firms.

It is the second step in KTF's globalization strategy since the establishment of U-Mobile in Malaysia last year in partnership with Japan's NTT DoCoMo. The company said it wants to enter five nations by 2010 and to have 50 million subscribers and 1 trillion won in sales by 2015.

``We have studied more than 40 proposals from many nations and we will be able to sign a contract in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) or in Africa this year,'' Terry Ahn, executive vice president in charge of KTF's global business, said during a press meeting in Seoul Thursday. ``Our strategy is to invest in developing nations where mobile penetration is still low and growth potential is high. To meet our long-term goal, we must sign at least one deal this year.''

Korean telecom companies have recently begun to make inroads into other nations as the domestic market became saturated for mobile phones, fixed-line phones and broadband Internet. KT, SK Telecom and KTF have respectively invested in several nations mostly in Asia, but their revenues from overseas were negligible compared to domestic sales.

Ahn said KTF set a goal of getting 10 percent of its revenue from outside Korea by 2015. That will be around 1 trillion won given that its revenue will grow from 7.2 trillion won in 2007 to around 10 trillion won by then. KTF will have about one third of the shares in the joint ventures, he said.

Its close relations with NTT DoCoMo, the largest mobile operator in Japan, will be a big help in the process, Ahn hinted. In December last year, the two firms invested $100 million each in Malaysia's U Mobile to get a combined 33 percent share. NTT also holds a 10.31 percent stake in KTF.

``KTF and NTT will have a long-term relationship. We feel comfortable with each other and we have a similar corporate culture.'' Ahn said. He didn't specify the country KTF is targeting this year, but said it would be one of the CIS nations except Russia or a sub-Saharan African nation.

The press meeting was arranged by KTF to celebrate the first anniversary of its ``Show'' brand. The company was the first to launch the WCDMA service in March 2007, beating SK Telecom by one month. WCDMA is an advanced version of mobile services, which offers faster data transmission for mobile Internet and video calls.

KTF CEO Cho Young-chu expects that more than 60 percent of handsets to be sold this year will be WCDMA phones. KTF is leading the WCDMA market with more than 4 million subscribers to SK Telecom's 3 million.

Cho also said that the firm is negotiating with foreign phone manufacturers to import a mega-hit phone to Korea. He refused to identify the name of the manufacturer of the product, but his presentation showed a picture of Apple's iPhone in front of phones from LG and Samsung.

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