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3 Korean Mobile Carriers Suffer a Drop in Operating Profit Due to 5G Investment
Despite Sales Growth
3 Korean Mobile Carriers Suffer a Drop in Operating Profit Due to 5G Investment
  • By Kim Eun-jin
  • February 10, 2020, 11:27
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Employees of three mobile carriers cooperate in joint construction of 5G network in subways.

The three Korean mobile carriers posted an increase in sales but a fall in operating profit in 2019 due to competition to attract 5G subscribers and huge investments in 5G networks.

SK Telecom recorded 17.74 trillion won in annual sales and 1.1 trillion won in operating profit in 2019 based on consolidated financial statements. Its revenue increased 5.2 percent on year to hit a record high, but its operating profit declined 7.6 percent due to heavy investment in 5G networks.

KT posted sales of 24.34 trillion and operating profit of 1.15 trillion on a consolidated base in 2019. Annual sales jumped 3.8 percent on growth in 5G, wired and wireless telecom and media businesses. Operating profit dropped 8.8 percent on higher network investment and marketing expenses.

LG Uplus posted 12.38 trillion in sales and 686.2 billion won in operating profit. Its revenue fell 5.6 percent on year, while its operating profit shrank 7.4 percent on year.

In 2019, SK Telecom invested 2.92 trillion won, KT 3.26 trillion won, and LG Uplus 2.6 trillion won in facilities, which contributed to lowering their earnings.

The three companies relatively put up a good fight in the media sector in 2019. SK Telecom's subsidiary SK Broadband IPTV sales rose 10.7 percent on year to 1.30 trillion won due to an increase in cumulative subscribers and UHD service subscribers. Its subscribers total 5.15 million.

KT also recorded media sales of 2.74 trillion, up 13.5 percent from 2018. The number of subscribers to KT’s IPTV Olleh TV, the No. 1 player in paid broadcasting, increased to 8.35 million.

LG Uplus recorded 4.47 million IPTV subscribers, an increase of 458,000 (11.4 percent) from a year ago. Its IPTV revenue also rose 16.6 percent to 1.23 trillion won, topping one trillion won for the first time.