South Korea is set to introduce a package of deregulation measures for the country’s wireless sector with a view to facilitating the introduction of a new mobile network operator, according to the Korea Herald. With the nation’s cellular sector having long been dominated by three cellcos – SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus – the report notes that the state actually turned down applications for a fourth operator concession some six times between 2010 and 2014. Now, however, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) has been cited as saying: ‘If a new business enters the market, it will spark competition, which will lead to a cut in subscription costs … It will also contribute to the emerging segments, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and financial technologies.’
As such, the ministry has confirmed it will accept applications for a new mobile network operator (MNO) licence in August 2015, with these to be reviewed between October and December. The report notes that some five companies could be interested in the concession, including Korea Mobile Internet, which has submitted requests for wireless spectrum on several occasions over recent years. Should it realise its plans to award a new operator licence, the regulator has suggested that a fourth carrier could enter the sector in 2017.
One other element of the expected deregulation measures is the abolition of rules which require the market’s current MNOs to obtain government approval for any tariff changes or the introduction of new price plans. Instead, it is understood that SKT, KT and LG Uplus will only be obliged to advise the authorities of tariff changes before being allowed to make public announcements 15 days later, as long as the changes do not conflict with the public’s and users’ interests.
Meanwhile, the MSIP has also outlined plans to help boost the market share held by mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), which it has said will account for 10% of the nation’s wireless sector by end-2015, and 12% a year later. To that end, a new website is to be launched to help consumers find information on local MVNOs and their subscription plans.