Saturday, December 15, 2007

Korea's SK Telecom Shines in Vietnam



Vietnamese listen to a lecture at the recently opened IT education center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The center, funded by SK Telecom, covers 3,737 square meters and has eight floors. / Courtesy of SK Telecom

Mobile Carrier Opens IT Center in Ho Chi Minh City

By Kim Yoo-chul
Staff Reporter

SK Telecom (SKT), the fourth-largest mobile telecom service provider in Vietnam with a market share of almost 10 percent or 3.5 million subscribers, has established a firm foothold to narrow the gap with industry leaders in Vietnam by establishing an IT training center there.

SKT said Sunday that it has opened a free-of-charge IT training center in Vietnam's largest commercial city of Ho Chi Minh together with SK C&C and Korea's Soongsil University.

Dubbed the ``SKT-SSU IT Education Center,'' the $5 million venue will cover 3,737 square meters over eight floors. It will operate over the next 50 years.

The center, armed with international training curricula, will focus on CDMA and software studies, targeting Vietnamese students under the age of 32 that are knowledgeable in IT and have intermediate English skills, according to the company.

``Successful graduates will have a chance to work at SKT's new business or IT-related fields here with an additional advantage of scholarships for those who want to study IT further in South Korea,'' the company said.

The Vietnamese government has recently set the goal of increasing IT-related experts and program developers by 80 percent through 2020.

Currently, Vietnam has about 350,000 workers in the IT-related sector.

Vietnam Gateway to Cambodia, Laos

The plan comes as positive results, stemming from favorable market situations, have been raising the prospects for the company to increase its presence in the Southeast Asian country, neighboring Cambodia and Laos.

With distinguished additional merits including low fees, unique services and text-messages, SK Telecom has increased its market share dramatically to 8.8 percent this year from 3 percent in 2005.

``We are set to increase the number of `S-Phone' subscribers to over 5 million next year, enabling the company to maintain a solid fourth place where Vietell, MobiPhone and VinaPhone split the market evenly with 30 percent,'' SK Telecom CEO Kim Shin-bae said.

SK Telecom, the service provider of S-Phone, is the company founded between Saigon Postel Corporation and SLD Telecom (SK Telecom, LG Telecom & Dong Ah Telecom from South Korea). It started the service in July 2003.

``Japan's NTT DoCoMo, the United Kingdom's Vodafone and Norway's Telenor have opened offices across Vietnam in their long-term plans to set foot in Vietnam and its neighboring countries,'' an SK Telecom official said, adding that the education center is a tailored marketing scheme to get ahead of its competitors.

SK Telecom has acquired a license to operate CDMA services in Cambodia. The Cambodian market is known to have a brighter prospect with an existing mobile penetration of 35 percent.

yckim@koreatimes.co.kr