Tag: korea

OECD report highlights broadband advances in H1 2010

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a broadband report for the first half of 2010, which highlights broadband penetration in the OECD area.

Total fixed broadband subscriptions within OECD countries was up from 283 million in December 2009 to 295 million in June 2010, while the average penetration rate grew from 23.3 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants to 24.3.

Japan and Korea continued to rule the roost, while Sweden and Norway were not far behind. The report highlighted a wireless broadband penetration rate of 95 percent in Korea, 75.6 percent in Sweden, 75.3 percent in Japan, and 72.8 percent in Norway.

55 percent of Japan’s broadband connections were fibre optic, while Korea enjoyed a similar 52 percent rate, some of the highest in the world. Slovakia, Sweden and Denmark also rated highly, with a fibre penetration rate of 28 percent, 24 percent, and 12 percent respectively.

There’s a long way to go before fibre dominates the OECD area, however, as DSL and cable are still the most prevalent broadband technologies. DSL is used by 58 percent of broadband users in the OECD, while cable accounts for 29 percent. Fibre still lags behind at 11.5 percent, but this is set to grow over the next few years.

Satellite and terrestrial fixed wireless subscriptions were shown to be a niche market, with only the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ireland displaying relatively high penetration rates within the wireless broadband market, coming in at 6.5 percent, 3 percent, and 2.2 percent respectively.

AMOLED panel demand leads to short supply

The increasing popularity of AMOLED panels has led to shortages of supply, prompting firms to develop the market to cope with demand in 2011.

Firms in Taiwan, Korea and Japan will actively develop the AMOLED panel market, while China is set to develop the supply chain for OLED.

Samsung Mobile Display is currently the leader in the AMOLED panel market, starting mass production in 2009  at its 4.5G plant, which has seen the panels becoming very popular for high-end phones

Samsung accounts for over 90 percent of the total market in 2010, meaning that there are not many options to deal with the increase in demand from vendors.

It is thought that Samsung will begin producing AMOLED panels at its 5.5G plant next year, as well as a number of other firms increasing output, meaning that shipments will potentially reach 168 million units.  It is likely that Samsung will see its share decrease to around 70 percent of the market as this happens, though Korea-based makers in general will still see in the region of 80 percent.

Taiwanese firm AUO, considered the most active player among Taiwan-based manufacturers developing AMOLED panels, is set use two 3.5G plants alongside a 4.5G plant held by its Singapore subsidiary.  It is thought, says Digitimes, that it may transfer another 4G or even a 6G plant for AMOLED production.

Chimei Innolux will also use a 3.5G plant, while Wintek is apparently interested in transferring its 3G line.

China is currently developing a supply chain for OLED, with many research facilities developing OLED.

The majority of this increased production will be to cope with demand for AMOLED panels for handsets however, as it is not expected that AMOLED will be gracing many of the TV sets being widely bought anytime soon, according to a display analyst at Meko.

Goksen Sertler believes that the technology will need considerable investment before it ready to become anything other than a niche product in terms of TV screens.

Speaking to TechEye, Sertler says: “Having seen a prototype Samsung screen at CES it is clear that they can offer fantastic picture quality, for 3D and standard viewing, perhaps better quality than LCD and plasma screens. 

“However I don’t see any evidence, at this moment, that it will be anything other than a niche product.”

Sertler noted that LG currently ship a very small number of AMOLED screens, amounting to less than 1,000 per quarter at the moment.

“While LG are shipping a small amount at the moment, and will likely continue to do so in 2011, it will probably be 2012 before many other products are on the market.  With this in mind it is difficult to say how much of an impact AMOLED will actually have on the television screen market, though if there were to be more investment in production then it would mean that it could make the technology more accessible to consumers.

“However firms are currently investing more into, for example, LCD screens.”

Europe's broadband lag means 2020 Digital Agenda targets unlikely

Figures released by the EU  show that despite increasing broadband connection speeds Europe still lags far behind Asian countries such as Japan in terms of speed.

The figures published by the European Commission show that many more EU residents have access to broadband connections of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps), rising to 29 percent in July 2010 from 15 percent last year.  

However only five percent of lines in the EU have average speeds at or above 30 Mbps, while 0.5 percent have access to speeds over 100 Mbps, which pales in comparison to Japan and China where high speed broadband connections are becoming the norm.

The EU Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda spoke out with the release of the EU broadband connectivity figures, demanding that countries do more to ensure that they reach aims for fast and ultra-fast connections by 2020.  According to the Digital Agenda 2020 targets, it is necessary to ensure that all households should have access to broadband speeds of at least 30 Mbps, with at least half accessing over 100 Mbps.

“Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe’s prosperity and well-being. Take up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets. In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast,” said Neelie Kroes at the EC.

There are positive signs however with broadband subscriptions up to over a quarter of every 100 citizens, rising from 23.9 last year to 25.6. 

According to the statistics, between July 2009 and July 2010 the number of broadband lines continued growing in the EU by eight percent, though this represented slower growth than the 11 percent seen the year before.  It is recorded that by July 2010 there were around 128 million fixed broadband lines in the EU, with 9 million lines added since July 2009, a large chunk of the 128 million households in Europe.

Denmark and the Netherlands continued to lead in broadband take up, with 40 lines per 100 reaching approximately 80 percent of households, although growth rates are slowing as markets reach saturation.

Part of the reason for the slowing of broadband take up is the massive increase in annual growth for mobile broadband, which saw significant growth of 45 percent in the last year, with six in every 100 owning a mobile broadband dedicated access device such as a dongle.

However it is noted that Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is still the vastly predominant technology to access broadband in Europe with 100 million lines.  While fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) grew by 40 percent it currently only represents 1.7 percent of total lines in Europe as it is only present in a small number of countries including Sweden.

This means that in terms of new entertainment and business services such as HDTV or video conferencing Europe is severely lagging, as much faster internet connections are needed to match world leaders like South Korea and Japan. 

This is because most EU broadband lines are based on DSL technologies and so average speeds are lower than in developed countries with high speed internet that can be achieved through LAN connections. According to EU figures only three percent of all broadband lines are LAN based, while this figure is significantly higher in Japan, which has 54 percent LAN connections, with South Korea on 49 percent. 

While many EU countries have seen greater proliferation of broadband, they also fall short of the five percent of American broadband lines with LAN. The figures are printed in full here

According to Charlie Davies, analyst at Ovum, there are a number of reasons behind the disparity between the EU and Japan and Korea.

“One of the factors as to why European countries are behind Japan and Korea is that there is much more encouragement and a strong drive from the government to help establish high speed connections,” Davies told TechEye

“For example the government in Japan has strongly supported NTT and allowed the company to increase to 70 percent of the market, which has made it easier to actually role out a high connection network, whereas in Europe, where there is considerably more competition, it would be difficult due to the cost for each individual company.”

“Also in terms of geography Japan has much higher density which means that costs are massively reduced, while most European countries have a significantly more dispersed population.” 

“In this respect I don’t think that the 2020 Digital Agenda target of half the population reaching over 30 Mbps is likely to happen at the moment.  While in many countries it will easy to implement high speed connections in the first 20-30 percent of the population, accounting for cities, it will be very difficult to reach this for rural areas.  In Japan for example this will considerably less of a problem.”

Davies added: “It is also worth noting that there is a culture in certain Asian countries of early take up of new technologies that has developed over the past few decades which could be part of the reason for such a gap.”

LG and Samsung to build 8th generation LCD plants in China

China is to announce its approval of plans for the world’s two largest flat -screen manufacturers, Samsung and LG, to build 8th generation LCD factories in the mainland.

It is expected that China will become home to the largest market for flat screen TVs in the near future and manufacturing firms are looking to head to the country.

“There was some speculation that only one Korean company would get approval from China due to concerns about a supply glut, but both Samsung and LG Display have won approval from China,” one source said.

Previously both LG and Samsung would only have back-end assembly lines in China due to fears over technology leaks, housing their high end plants in Korea.  The new manufacturing plants will be more advanced facilities which will seek to produce LCD panels for flat-screen TVs.

Back in October 2009 Samsung stated that it would build a 7.5 generation LCD panel plant in, Suzhou, paying approximately $835 million in a joint venture. LG announced similar ambitions last year for a $4billion 8th generation plant in China.  An 8th generation plant is capable of churning out 50 inch screens, while 7.5 generation plant will be able to manufacture 40inch screens.

The South Korean government gave the go ahead for the screen manufacturers to export their technology due to the increasing importance if the LCD TV market in China, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

However there have been concerns raised with regards to potential over-production.  While it will mean that the two firms can potentially boost their market share – currently amounting to 50 per cent combined – it is feared that building more manufacturing plants could lead to a supply glut having an adverse effect on profitability.

“Since three other local Chinese companies are also building LCD plants, which will likely start operation in the latter half of 2011 at the earliest, there’s a high possibility of an industry oversupply some time in 2012,” said an analyst at Shinyoung Securities, Yoon Hyuk-jin.

Taiwanese firm AU Optronics is also waiting to set up a plant in Kunshan, China, having aparently received approval from Chinese authorities, but  is currently awaiting the green light from the Taiwanese government.

The plants will allow sales of approximately 40 million units, while not having to pay import tariffs, says The Chosunilbo. 

13 year old girl sues Apple for poor iPhone after-sales service

A 13-year old Korean iPhone customer has filed a lawsuit against Apple Korea, demanding a 290,400 won ($256 USD) refund – the amount it cost to have her broken iPhone 3G fixed. 

The teenage girl, surname Lee, was told at an Apple service centre that her phone would be fixed for free. Later she was told she’d have to pay 290,400 won to get it fixed – after Apple Geniuses told her that a strip of label showed that her phone had come into contact with water.

She told the Korea Times: “My phone was never in water. It is absurd for Apple to claim the problem is my fault. When my phone is disassembled during the legal proceeding, we will find out the truth.”

Apple claims that the strip of label turning red is proof of its contact with water. However Lee argues it is because of moisture in the air. “Apple did not install any safety features to prevent the iPhone from being damaged from moisture and water,” she continued, “It is entirely the manufacturer’s fault.”

As with Apple’s approach to the iPhone 4’s antennagate, if this gains any traction we imagine Jobs will take to the stage with a broken Nokia 3210 and claim that it, too, was damaged by humidity. Nothing to do with manufacturing.

Lee’s father filed the law suit on behalf of his daughter. He said that the reason he and his daughter decided to press ahead with the case is to protect Korean consumers – many, he thinks, could be affected by the humidity problems. We’ll wait and see, but it’s not the first time Apple has been accused of rubbish after sales service. 

Hynix starts production on 64 gigabit NAND chips

Korean DRAM maker Hynix has said that it has started production on 64 gigabit NAND flash chips using a 20nm processing technology in an effort to keep it in the game with the other slightly bigger dogs.

It’s the third time that Hynix has tried to get  going with its 20nm class 64GB chip after it had been developed February last year but it’s finally got the production lines rolling at its 300mm Fab. Hynix reckons that the introduction of 20nm to its 64GB chip, double that of its standard 32GB line, will give it an edge in the mobile space or anywhere where tiny chips are needed – think smartphones and tablet PCs.

Park Hyun of Hynix says he wants output of the chips to reach 80,000 units by the end of the year. A spokesman told the Korea Herald: “We plan to raise the portion of our 20-nm class NAND flash products to 10 percent of our total NAND flash output by the end of this year, while increasing the portion of 20nm, 30nm products to mid-60 percent from the current 30 percent.

The Korean media is saying it’s about ruddy time: the gap between Hynix and larger rivals widened as other chip makers already have their 20nm NAND chips on the go, such as Samsung

Hynix is keen to get its 20nm NAND out in the fray. It has also announced that it has joint forces with Isareli NAND provider Anobit to use its controller devices on Hynix’s 20nm and 30nm class chips.

LCD kit spend to hit $13.2 billion this year

Spending on TFT LCD manufacturing kit will hit $13.2 billion this year, with many manufacturers expanding their capacity or building new glass fabs.

Displaysearch said in a report that most of the LCD panel makers are seeking to grow capacity as fast as possible and vying with each other to make sure they can secure the equipment they need.

Demand for TFT-LCD panels has been strong through the first calendar quarter of this year and LCD TVs are rapidly pushing out older cathode ray tube (CRT) systems, said Charles Annis, Displaysearch VP of manufacturing research.

He said: “Many of the expansions and new fabs being built this year will continue to install equipment well into 2011, but as all this capacity ramps to full production, demand will have to continue to grow at high rates or the industry could be setting itself up for the next major over-supply and down side of the Crystal Cycle in 2012.”

LCD Manufacturing Equipment Market
Source: Displaysearch Q1 2010, Quarterly FPD Supply/Demand Capital Spending

Fab utilisation is now close to full capacity, he continued. There’s strong demand from China.

Displaysearch thinks that Korean manufacturers will account for the majority of kit bought in 2010, but in 2011 China will become a major player, along with Taiwan and Japan.

He said: “The rapid growth of the China market creates a variety of both challenges and opportunities for capital equipment companies. The opportunity of an expanded customer base is attractive for all suppliers and in particular for Korean equipment companies that are very cost competitive

Ericsson buys stake in LG-Nortel

Ericsson, the grand old Swedish maker of telecommunications equipment, has acquired Nortel’s take in South Korean joint venture LG-Nortel. Ericsson will pay $242 million in cash for Nortel’s slice of the cake. The joint venture will be called LG-Ericsson, should South Korea’s regulatory bodies approve of the deal.

Ericsson claims the “acquisition will significantly expand” the company’s market penetration in Korea and that LG-Ericsson “will become one of the major telecom players in Korea.” Apparently the joint venture has standing agreements with operators Korea Telecom, LG Telecom and SK Telecom.

LG-Nortel was established back in 2005 in order to make and sell WCDMA, CDMA and LTE systems to South Korean operators. The joint venture raked in sales worth $650 million and has 1.300 employees. Ericsson expects its investment will add to its bottom line one year later.