Site: Ministry of Information and Communications
Satellite Division, Radio and Broadcasting Bureau
116 Shinmun-ro ga
Seoul, 110-700 Korea
Date Visited: June 2, 1997
WTEC: J.N. Pelton (report author), J. Evans
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is responsible for regulating the emerging competitive market in Korean telecommunications. As far as satellite communications are concerned, MIC shares to some extent the responsibility for establishing policy in this area with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Funding for the Electronic Technology Research Institute (ETRI) is provided largely through MIC and industry, even though ETRI must compete for its funding on a competitive basis with other research institutes. Funding for KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute) is provided through MOST.
MIC has specifically been responsible for defining the Group on Basic Telecommunications (GBT) agreement that has been entered into by Korea under the World Trade Organization agreements concerning telecommunications and international trade. This plan indicates that there are to be three international telecommunications carriers namely Korea Telecommunications (KT), Dacom, and Oase Telecom, which was established last year. The ownership of this consortium has certain limits. Foreign satellite carriers such as Asia Sat, PanAmSat, Orion, Apstar or others are not allowed direct access to the Korean market, but in theory they could establish, under the terms of the GBT/WTO agreement, a local subsidiary in which they own no more than 33.3%, to establish such direct access. International investment in Korean telecommunications carriers is limited to 20%.
To date, no such access through a new "outside carrier' has been set up, even though PanAmSat and EBS (Education Broadcast System) of Korea have expressed interest in doing so.
Currently, KT is government owned and also is the sole owner of Koreasat, but KT is in the process of being privatized. One of the aspects of this "spin off" concerns the ownership and control of Koreasat and the process whereby the next generation of Koresat will be developed.
Activities concerning other Korean projects such as KITSAT-1, 2, and 3 (a KAIST project) and the Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Kompsat 1 and 2) and the follow-on systems (a KARI project) are largely funded and controlled through the Ministry of Science and Technology. (See separate site visit reports on KAIST and KARI.)
Possible launch vehicle development and bus technology are being coordinated though MOST and KARI, with industrial participation largely at Halla and Hyundai. At the time of this visit (1997), no single ministry had an overall role with regard to coordinating a single space research and development plan. Likewise, there did not seem to be a single legally designated governmental body with a specific role in resolving technology transfer issues, intellectual property or international partnership or international joint ventures involving space.
The MIC staff appears to be aware and supportive of a number of current investments by Korean industry in international satellite projects. This is seen as not only international investment, but also in a number of cases as a means of technology transfer and development. The current status is as follows:
Halla—Lockheed Martin High Resolution Remote System
Another key aspect of MIC's mission is the coordination and implementation of telecommunications standards for Korea, and filing for new satellite frequencies with the ITU. The primary standards organization in Korea is the Information Technology Agreement (which is somewhat like the EIA in the United States). Korea also participates actively in the ITU as well as in the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity of Bangkok, Thailand. Our hosts indicated that within the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, Japan played a very strong leadership role in this respect, but that Korea was also increasingly active. ETRI is currently playing a key standards role with regard to defining "Future Planned Land Mobile Telecommunications Services (FPLMTS)" which has been renamed "IMT 2000" by the ITU. ETRI, which is heavily funded by MIC as well as the Korean telecommunications industry, has created under its leadership a 92 member consortium to clarify and define this key new mobile telecommunications standard.
The Ministry of Information and Communications is currently focused on the privatization of Korea Telecom and on creation of a new consortium as the third competitive carrier. The decision as to how the ownership of Koreasat will be structured in the new competitive telecommunications market was unclear at the time of this visit. Certainly MIC and MST share some responsibility as to the future R&D funding and support for new satellite communications technology and system development in Korea.