South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) has announced that each of the nation’s cellcos – SK Telecom (SKT), KT Corp and LG Uplus – will be barred from signing up new subscribers for 45 days. Yonhap News Agency reports that the regulator has opted to penalise the mobile operators as a result of their continued provision of illegal subsidies, despite numerous warnings to halt such practices. Unlike previous occasions where the ministry has banned telcos from registering new customers, however, the MSIP has confirmed that, rather than suspending one carrier at a time, it will impose the ban on two firms simultaneously; the regulator said that such a course of action had been decided upon as previous experiences showed that the market became overheated when a single operator was punished. Notably, the decision marks the longest business suspension since 2004, when the government banned SKT from new sign-ups for 40 days.
As per the regulator’s latest ruling, market leader SKT will be restricted from adding new subscribers between 5 April and 19 May, while the second-largest cellco in terms of customers, KT, will be suspended from new business between 13 March and 26 April. LG Uplus, meanwhile, will not be allowed to accept new customers between 27 April and 18 May.
Commenting on the matter, MSIP official Kim Joo-han was cited as saying: ‘We made efforts to minimise inconveniences of the people, small manufacturers and retailers when drawing up disciplinary actions against the three mobile carriers.’