Korean Phone Roams Home
By John Alderman, Tue Mar 23 23:15:00 GMT 2004

KT, South Korea’s largest telecom, will begin selling a phone service in June that can be used with a home landline as a well as mobile networks.

According to the Korea Times, the Bluetooth-using handset (made by Samsung) will let users exchange mail, pictures and other data, whether at home or on the go. Named “DU,” it will allow standard fixed-line protocol and CDMA.

KT, which cut 5,500 jobs last year (12.6% of its total), was described recently by the Korea Herald as battling a slump in sales and looking for new growth engines. That article quoted KT president and CEO Lee Yong-kyung as calling for fixed-line voice services to be “overhauled to grapple with declining demand, especially as the market is moving toward mobile phone services.”

With Korea so strongly pushing home networking, this is no surprise. The South Korean Government announced the goal of 10 million home networks last year, as manufacturers like LG and Samsung invest heavily in building networked stereos and refrigerators.

A phone that attempts to merge the family network with outside, mobile data and communication should at least shed some new light on this new area in which Korean companies have lavished so much effort and which seems so ripe for the emergence of some interesting application.