updated 03:35 pm EST, Tue November 4, 2008
Korean iPhone by Dec.?
The release date for a Korean iPhone is now dependent on government deregulation efforts, writes The Korea Times. The Korea Communications Commission is currently debating the future of WIPI, the wireless software standard which any phone in the country is obliged to follow. WIPI is said to effectively block the sale of foreign devices, however, and through negotiations the US government has pressured South Korea into opening up its market.
The latter has in fact been working to scrap WIPI for some time, but has only recently decided to accelerate its efforts, with an aim towards making a ruling before 2009. The major issue is said to be the complex interests of carriers and electronics companies in the country, which have traditionally enjoyed protection from foreign poaching.
The carrier most likely to sell the iPhone in Korea is thought to be KTF, which has spoken publicly about wanting the device, and says it is prepared to move fast should the WIPI obstacle be eliminated. Sources suggest that the iPhone could launch as soon as December, but a KTF representative notes that even if the WIPI ruling arrives in the next few weeks, a December release would be a "huge challenge."