Cable Tech

KT: Game Over

3:30 PM -- Still clearing out the OFC/NFOEC notebook...

KT Corp. , represented by senior executive VP Sanghoon Lee, gave the opening talk at the event's Service Provider Summit last Wednesday. Lee turned out to be a good-humored and charismatic speaker, and quite frank about the problem of carriers becoming plain bit pipes.

KT is worried about that, too, and that's led the carrier to strike new business ventures in areas like digital signage. You can buy a service that connects a flat-panel display with your content, which can then be flexible -- you can display news, ads, whatever. They're popular for fast-food restaurants, which can use the screens to display menus.

KT gives you the flat-panel screen for free -- but wait, there's more. Let KT use 2 percent of the screen time for paid ads from other companies, and they'll give you a cut of the money. Bottom line: You can actually make a profit by "buying" this KT service. I'm unclear on whether that comes out as a plus for KT.

He also talked about investing in the movie business, but he didn't mention video games, the application for which Korea is arguably the most famous. I asked him about it after his talk.

"In Korea, the online game is quite successful, but we didn't get much [of the] pie out if it," he said. KT had tried investing in game providers, but he said that was just a crap shoot. "It's like investing money in the stock market. I don't think we have any successful ones."

KT wants a piece of the action, though, and Lee talks about it the way RBOCs complain about Skype Ltd. and Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG). "The game operators, they don't need to pay a thing to us. They get a free ride on top of our networks," Lee says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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