South Korea Ends Analog Cellular Service

SK Telecom Co. Ltd., South Korea's last remaining operator of an analog cellular service, switched off its network at the end of 1999 in favor of a new digital network.

The company launched its analog service in 1984 although has seen subscriber numbers dwindle after the launch of a CDMA (code division multiple access) network in 1997. Handsets for the new digital network offer features such as support for Hangul, the Korean character set, which analog phones do not, said SK Telecom.

SK Telecom announced its plan to switch off the network in late October 1999 and stopped accepting new subscriptions for the service at that time.

In the second half of 1999, Japan's last remaining analog carrier switched off its network and moved subscribers to its PDC (personal digital communications) or CDMA services. For carriers, digital networks offer benefits because more calls can be squeezed into the limited amount of frequency space allocated to each operator.

At the end of December, Australia's Telstra Corp. switched off 80 percent of its analog service as it prepares to roll out a A$600 million (US$393 million) CDMA network this year.

SK Telecom, in Seoul, can be found online at http://www.sktelecom.co.kr.

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