Goodbye WIPI

Written by admin on January 8, 2009 – 11:41 am -

The Korean Communications Commission (KCC) has finally decided to abolish WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) which was a requirement for data enabled mobile phones sold in Korea.

WIPI has prevented mobile phone giants such as Nokia and Sony Erricson from entering the Korean market. Starting April 1, 2009, this should open the floodgates for foreign made mobile phones to compete with the local heavyweights such as Samsung and LG.

What particularly interests me is the entry of PDA and Smartphones, which Koreans have not yet embraced fully. This will also pave the way for Apple’s iPhone 3G , Nokia’s E Series business phones, and Sony Erricsons P Series. Another reason I’m excited is because these foreign smartphones will surely have english support built in to them. Currently most phones from Samsung and LG have english support but Korean smartphones don’t since they usually use Windows Mobile that is localized in Korean.

You techies better start saving up since Korean Telco’s don’t usually subsidize the price of the phones, we can expect prices to be upwards of KWN 700,0000 (USD 500).

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Awww crap!!! No iPhone for the ROK

Written by admin on June 19, 2008 – 11:17 am -

I guess I finally have to swallow the cold hard fact that Apple’s new iPhone 3G is not going to hit Korean shores in the foreseeable future unless the South Korean government makes changes to it’s policies regarding mobile phones with internet access. 

All mobile phones sold in the ROK are required to have WIPI installed. WIPI or Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability is a middleware platform developed by  the Korea Wireless Internet Standardization Forum (KWISF) that  allows mobile devices to access the internet regardless of manufacturer or service provider.

As ideal as the intention sounds this platform is what has been hindering the entry of foreign mobile makers such as Nokia, Sony Erricson, and more recently Apple’s iPhone into the Korean market. I’m pretty sure the home team mobile phone makers Samsung and LG are pretty happy to keep it this way. On the other hand South Korea despite its technological advances and claims of being one of the most ‘wired’ countries in the planet is being hindered by this rule. This has also prevented the likes of Nokia and Sony Erricson in selling their phones in South Korea since modifying their existing models solely for the Korean market is just not financially viable.

The South Korean government recently revised this rule to exclude mobile devices that do not have internet functionality. As for me I’m one the thousands of expats living in the ROK who just wants to be rid of the hassles of getting mobile phone service by being able to use a phone that I already have. C’mon Samsung and LG why don’t you lighten up a bit a let a little foreign competition battle you on your home turf? 

So what’s your only option if you must have an iPhone 3G? Go get an international roaming plan, but that’s something that I’m not willing to do or spend extra cash on despite my desperation to own the iPhone 3G.

STOP PRESS – Pinoys will be able to get their grubby hands on the iPhone 3G from Globe Telecom by the end of the year.

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Posted in South Korea | No Comments »