South Korean mobile network operator KT Corp has emerged from the country’s latest spectrum auction with new frequencies in the 1800MHz band adjacent to those it already hold and uses for its LTE network. According to the Korea Times, the cellco will pay KRW900 billion (USD513 million) for its new 15MHz block of spectrum, which it will reportedly use to boost capacity on its existing fourth-generation infrastructure. With the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) having approved KT’s bid to use the spectrum for LTE-based services, the cellco was cited as saying in a statement: ‘We welcome the decision by the ministry. Because KT has already been offering premium LTE services within the same 1800MHz bandwidth, the approval will help us be better positioned to offer advanced LTE services to our customers.’ With regards to the pricing of its new concession, KT reportedly said that the KRW900 billion price tag was ‘not too much’.
On the back of its spectrum acquisition, KT has also now confirmed plans for the commercial introduction of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology. Yonhap News reports that the cellco has said it will introduce LTE-A-based services this month, initially in the capital Seoul and its adjacent regions. It subsequently expects to expand to most major cities across the country by March 2014.
Meanwhile, the market’s largest operator in terms of mobile subscribers, SK Telecom (SKT), also laid claim to new spectrum in the 1800MHz band (a 35MHz block), having bid KRW1.05 trillion for a second tranche of frequencies that were made available via auction. However, the report cites SKT spokesperson Kim Ji-won as claiming that the firm will, in fact, only have to pay around KRW400 million for the bandwidth, after it handed back two blocks of spectrum; it was not specified which spectrum had been dropped. Rounding out the market, LG Uplus, South Korea’s smallest network operator, bagged a 40MHz block of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, paying KRW479 billion for its new frequencies.
In outlining the outcome of the sale process, the MSIP noted that there had been some 50 rounds of bidding, with the minimum bidding price for the 1800MHz spectrum won by KT having been set at KRW289 billion, while it was KRW674 billion for the frequencies won by SKT.