SK Telecom Reports Record 5G Subscribers, but its ARPU Drops

SK Telecom revealed a significant surge in its 5G subscribers, reaching 15.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.
SK Telecom 5G subscribers in 2023
SK Telecom’s 5G subscribers have marked an increase from 15.1 million in the third quarter of 2023, 14.7 million in the second quarter, 14.1 million in the first quarter, and 13.4 million in the same period of 2022.

The telecommunications giant also disclosed a rise in Pay TV subscribers (IPTV + CATV) which reached 9.549 million in 4Q23, compared to 9.515 million in 3Q23, 9.464 million in 2Q23, 9.401 million in 1Q23, and 9.323 million in 4Q22.

SK Telecom further provided details about its Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), stating that it reached KRW 29,562 in 4Q23. This represented a slight decrease from KRW 29,913 in 3Q23, KRW 29,920 in 2Q23, KRW 30,101 in 1Q23, and KRW 30,495 in 4Q22.

Capex of SK Telecom has dropped KRW 2,742 trillion in 2023 from KRW 3,035 trillion in 2022. SK Telecom’s Capex has reached KRW 1,256 trillion in Q4 2023 from KRW 1,492 trillion in Q4 2022.

The company’s financial report for the year 2023 showcased strong performance with revenue reaching KRW 17.609 trillion, reflecting a 1.8 percent increase. Operating income rose by 8.8 percent to KRW 1.753 trillion, and net income reached KRW 1.146 trillion.

SK Telecom attributed its growth to an increase in fixed and mobile revenue, driven by the expansion of 5G and IPTV subscribers.

The positive business performance was underpinned by balanced growth across three key areas: AI Infrastructure, AI Transformation (AIX), and AI Service. These areas were part of SKT’s AI Pyramid Strategy, introduced in September 2023. The company anticipates further revenue growth in its AI businesses, leveraging its strong AI infrastructure and technological capabilities.

Key components such as the AI data center, AI enterprise, and AI semiconductor are expected to propel SK Telecom’s AI business by meeting the rising market demand and significantly expanding sales in the current year.

In addition, SK Telecom outlined its plans to enhance its personal AI assistant service, A., by continually adding attractive features and services, aiming to lead the AI assistant service market.

Looking ahead to 2024, SK Telecom has ambitious goals to achieve tangible results in various AI business areas, including AI data center, AI semiconductor, telco-specific LLM, and X Caliber. The company remains optimistic about its prospects, projecting sustained growth and innovation in the evolving tech landscape.

Baburajan Kizhakedath