The complex interplay between mobile service providers, Korea's telecommunications regulator and the handset and equipment manufacturers is the underlying theme of an interesting article in The Korea Times today.
KT, the country’s No. 2 mobile carrier, desperately needs to close its second-generation (2G) mobile service after dropping its bid for the 1.8 gigahertz (GHz) band in the government auction, otherwise it will lag behind competitors in adopting the ultra-fast 4G service. The regulator, however, isn’t approving KT’s move without proper guidelines.
As noted in an earlier post, KT dropped its bid for the 1.8 GHz band Monday, allowing competitor SK Telecom, the biggest player in the industry, to buy the band at 995 billion won, more than double the starting price.
“We sought approval from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) for our plan to close the 2G service early August,” a KT representative said.
However, it remains to be seen whether the regulator will approve it. KT already sought approval a few months ago, but the KCC rejected it saying the carrier still has too many 2G users.
KT said it has greatly decreased the number of 2G users since then. It currently has 320,000 2G users, a steep decrease from 1.1 million in March when it first announced the plan to halt 2G service.
“The number is decreasing by thousands each day. We expect to get the green light this time,” the KT representative said. KT has been trying to lure 2G users to its 3G service, providing new handsets for free or offering subsidies and exempting subscription fees.
KT Chairman Lee Seok-chae held a press meeting, and announced that KT would halt the 2G service in September to launch LTE service in November. Lee’s remark is regarded as pressure on the KCC to allow it to halt 2G service.