South Korean operator mulls name change as it looks to shed it traditional telco image

SK Telecom could change its name to reflect its increasing focus on big data and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, if the chairman of its parent company gets his way.

Chey Tae-won, chair of SK Corporation, believes the business should change its name in the medium-to-long term as it move away from traditional telco services.

"[The] term ‘Telecom,’ which gives an impression that the company is a common carrier, should be excluded from the company name," South Korean newspaper The Dong-A Ilbo quoted Chey as saying. However, it appears the chairman did not share any firm plans as to when and how a name change might happen.

"The name needs to be changed so that the company can be thought of as an AI-focused company," Chey said.

SK Telecom has made much of its AI prowess in recent weeks. Last month, at a special event to mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of late chairman Chey Jong-hyun, Chey’s father, the group presented a hologram of the departed Chey. According to local press reports, the former chairman addressed family and friends at the event thanks to voice synthesis technology.

Returning to the present, the paper suggested that the ‘T’ brand the company uses for its various apps, such as mobile navigation service T Map and taxi hailing app T Map Taxi, may also go.

Those apps "contain data that can be used to predict customers’ driving habits and the probability of accidents," it quoted Chey as saying.

"If we have thus far made a profit by selling the data, going forward, we will become a company that handles the data and makes a business model out of it," he said.