"Korean mobile telecom carriers are rushing to grab an initiative in the wireless Internet and data market, shifting from the voice- oriented strategy.
"The change in the direction of five domestic mobile carriers is based upon the dramatic increase of both the Internet and mobile users in recent months.
"According to the Ministry of Information and Communication, the number of mobile users stands at 24 million (which roughly translates into one in every two persons) and that of Internet users hovers over 10 million as of the end of last year.
"The increased usage of the Internet and mobile phones is driving the convergence of the two high-tech media, offering a variety of new services such as multimedia contents, stock quotations, online games and wireless e-mail.
"Five mobile-phone operators launched their wireless Internet services late last year, staging a massive marketing campaign to woo subscribers into the mobile Internet solutions.
"To strengthen digital contents for the wireless transmission, the mobile carriers are busy forming strategic alliances with telecom solution providers and venture firms.
"Currently, a majority of mobile handsets are modified for voice- oriented services but new models are targeting the mobile Internet users with large LCD (liquid crystal display) screen and higher transmission speed.
"SK Telecom is now promoting its wireless data and Internet service named ``n.TOP'' which is based on WAP (wireless application protocol).
"SK Telecom subscribers are able to get hooked up to the Internet and surf simplified websites, specifically designed for the mobile phone use.
"KT Freetel, a mobile-phone subsidiary of Korea Telecom, recent revamped its wireless Internet service called ``PersNet.'' PersNet, which is Freetel's flagship fixed-line and mobile portal service, has attracted 500,000 subscribers earlier this month. The company plans to increase its subscriber base to 3.5 million by the end of this year.
"LG Telecom, which unveiled the wireless Internet service named ``ez Web'' earlier than its rivals, joined forces with Interpark, an e- commerce solution provider, in a bid to introduce a mobile shopping service through which subscribers can scan product items and make orders instantly.
"LG boasts off 200-odd websites on its wireless Internet menu, the largest selection among domestic mobile carriers.