By Lee Youkyung
SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's telecommunications regulator said Wednesday that it will exclude SK Telecom Co. and KT Corp. from bidding for a 2.1-gigahertz (GHz) mobile band spectrum, making the country's smallest mobile carrier, LG Uplus Corp., the likely winner of the license for the much sought-after band.
South Korea's three mobile operators are keen on securing licenses for three mobile bands that are up for auction in early August, as they prepare to launch new mobile services, such as long-term evolution (LTE), to meet surging data demand from smartphones and tablet PC users.
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said in a statement that it decided to exclude mobile operators that already own a 2.1 GHz band from auctions for the latest 2.1 GHz band, to prevent a possible monopoly and market distortion.
SK Telecom and KT already operate third-generation (3G) mobile services on the 2.1 GHz frequency. LG Uplus is the only mobile operator in the country without a license for the 2.1 GHz frequency, which is the most widely used among operators in about 160 countries and is crucial for smartphone services.
The KCC expects to raise at least 1.15 trillion won (US$1.07 billion) from the country's first auction of licenses for three spectrum bands, it added.
The minimum bidding prices for a 1.8 GHz band and the 2.1 GHz band will each be 445.5 billion won ($414.7 million) while an 800 MHz band will be up for sale for at least 261 billion won, it said.
The decision is a blow to SK Telecom and KT, which were seeking to secure mobile spectrums, as their networks are bursting at the seams with bandwidth-hungry smartphone users.
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