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(LEAD) KT reports LG Uplus to watchdog for 'irregularities'
By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- KT Corp., the country's top fixed line and No. 2 mobile carrier, on Tuesday reported rival LG Uplus Corp. to the communications watchdog for illegally luring subscribers.

   "KT has submitted a report to the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) requesting a strict measure on LG Uplus, which has been receiving subscribers through illegal means despite its business suspension stemming from excessive subsidy payments," KT said in a press release.

   Since Monday, LG Uplus has been under a 24-day business suspension from attracting new users as part of the KCC's punitive measures to clamp down on excessive subsidies.

   Last month, the watchdog fined the country's three major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom Co., KT and LG Uplus -- a combined 11.89 billion won (US$11.18 million) in addition to imposing business suspensions for offering discriminative subsidies to lure customers.

   Top player SK Telecom was fined 6.89 billion won and given a 22-day suspension, while KT was slapped with a 2.85 billion won fine and a 20-day ban. Smallest player LG Uplus received 2.15 billion won in fines in addition to the longest business suspension.

   The KCC said it found the three companies had discriminated against subscribers by paying subsidies over 270,000 won to certain users between July and December last year.

   An official at SK Telecom said the carrier has detected similar irregularities and plans to take the case to the KCC.

   LG Uplus said in a statement it has banned retailers from illegally receiving subscriptions and plans to enforce the strongest measures possible against those who break the policy.

   The company said "it regrets that its rival firm exaggerated the situation" and pledged to fulfill the KCC's measures.

   The three mobile carriers have been beefing up competition in a bid to gain a bigger slice of the market for fourth-generation long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity.

   The number of South Korea's LTE subscribers reached 15.9 million at the end of 2012, expanding more than 13-fold from the previous year, according to industry data. The figure translates to 40,000 new LTE subscriptions per day.