ICT minister to hold talks with cellcos ahead of upcoming 5G spectrum sale

27 Jan 2022

South Korea’s Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook has said she will meet with the nation’s three mobile network operators (MNOs) – SK Telecom (SKT), KT Corp and LG Uplus – to discuss plans for the sale of additional 5G spectrum, Yonhap News Agency reports.

Last month the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced it would open bidding for a 20MHz block of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band (3.40GHz-3.42GHz), following a request by LG Uplus, before subsequently confirming the new frequencies would be priced at KRW135.5 billion (USD114 million). However, both SKT and KT have complained about the ministry’s decision, arguing that LG Uplus is at a relative advantage as the spectrum block to be sold is adjacent to frequencies already held by the smaller player – meaning it will cost LG Uplus less to utilise it. As a result, earlier this week SKT filed a request to the MSIT for an additional 40MHz of spectrum to be made available, citing the need for fair competition among the three cellcos.

Commenting on the matter, Lin was cited as saying: ‘It remains unclear whether the auction will open next month … I will meet the CEOs of the three telecom operators next month to request their cooperation, as well as to convince them and listen to their opinions.’