South Korean firms LG Electronics and Icom will use the 2002 FIFA World Cup to showcase their third-generation (3G) mobile phone technology, including a demonstration during the opening ceremonies that will be seen by billions of viewers. When the games kick off on May 31, there will be a seven-minute show beamed on to the scoreboard using live video shot on LG's K8000 3G handsets and a wide-band code division multiple access (W-CDMA) network set up especially for the games. LG's manager of overseas product planning Hyun-Bo Choi said: 'This is big. It will be the first time people have seen a phone with these capabilities.' The phones will later be available for use at 14 booths at World Cup venues in Korea. In addition to recording and sending video clips and multimedia messages, the handsets can download and play news and replay key moments in the games on their large colour screens. With about 70 per cent of the world's mobile phone users operating on the global system for mobile communications (GSM), the demonstration will provide a first opportunity for many people to see the capabilities of W-CDMA, and Korean firms hope the performance will boost sales of handsets and network equipment. 'We want to show people that W-CDMA really does work,' said Peter Kim, senior manager of LG's mobile division. Korean carriers have offered 3G services through CDMA2000 1X since October 2000, but there are plans to roll out W-CDMA early next year to provide better transmission of video and other multimedia content. Icom president Cho Young-chu, told the Korean Herald: 'The World Cup is indeed a global event, which offers a rare chance for Korea to showcase its remarkable achievements in the mobile sector.' While Korea is often compared with Japan in terms of its drive to get new technology deployed, analysts question whether there is enough demand for W-CDMA to justify the investment at a time when investors are wary of spending on new technology. Icom has already paid 650 billion won (HK$3.99 billion) to the Government for its W-CDMA licence, one of three awarded. CLSA analyst Matt Evans said there had been indications from government regulators that there could be delays. 'Over the last six months nervous investors have been reassured . . . that the hugely value-destroying 3G network roll-out will be significantly delayed, probably until 2004 or 2005. In our view, the World Cup W-CDMA demonstration is just for show,' he said. Mobile carriers will offer roaming services to the thousands of people attending football's premier event. Users who have GSM will be able to insert their SIM card into a roaming phone, which can be rented at Seoul airport for US$1 per day.