By Kim Bo-eun
Korea’s major telecom firms are scrambling to find their next engines of growth as they seek to reduce their reliance on their traditional business amid market saturation.
But LG Uplus has remained quiet compared to its competitors SK Telecom (SKT) and KT, which have unveiled ambitious investments and plans for new businesses in recent years.
SKT has selected media, commerce, mobility and security as the four pillars that will drive its future growth. The company is working with global firms, including Uber, with which it has set up a joint venture in the mobility business, as well as Amazon for its commerce platform.
KT has stated it would transform itself into a global digital platform company and is focusing on artificial intelligence as well as media content.
But it remains unclear what LG’s mobile carrier is up to. LG Uplus CEO Hwang Hyeon-sik, who was elected to the position in March, vowed to lead the firm’s growth in new sectors. Hwang said LG Uplus would seek out new B2C growth engines in advertising, data and subscription services, and B2B business opportunities in the areas of smart factories and smart mobility. So far, the only major news LG has made was beating SKT to achieve the second-biggest share of the market for affordable phones.
What is increasing uncertainties is the absence of a head at LG Uplus’ new business division. The new unit was launched early this year to explore new areas for growth. But the company currently has no senior executive leading the division.
The unit has further lost steam with reports stating that a key executive of the division is jumping ship and heading to the portal giant, Naver. The executive had led new projects at LG Uplus since November 2019.
LG Uplus appears to be at a critical juncture. Now is the time for it to take bold steps for a new initiative to shed its track record of consistently ranking third among the three telecom firms here.