All eyes on 1.8Ghz band in Korea auction

All eyes on 1.8Ghz band in Korea auction

Melissa Chua  |   August 19, 2011
South Korea’s three mobile carriers are fighting tooth and nail over a frequency lot on the 1.8Ghz band currently on auction.
According to JoongAng Daily, the band has gone through 21 rounds of bidding, with the price rising from 445.5 billion won ($412.9 million) to 543.7 billion won.
The 1.8Ghz band is highly prized due to its compatibility with 4G communications. Several carriers in Europe and the United States have chosen the frequency band, deeming it potentially easier for the band’s winner to acquire compatible mobile devices from manufacturers.
An SK Telecom spokesperson told JoongAng Daily the operator would not let competitors have the ‘best weapon’ without a fight.
The government had previously allocated the bands to operators but had this year decided on an auction. Three bands were put up for bidding, the 2.1Ghz band, the 1.8 Ghz band and 800Mhz band.
The 2.1Ghz band went to the country’s smallest mobile carrier LG U+, which paid 445.5 billion won for the lot. LG U+ was previously the only carrier without a license for the band. The win was viewed more as a formality because rivals SK Telecom and Korea Telecom had been banned from bidding.
Market watchers are worried high prices may affect carriers’ long term expansion plans. Carriers in Korea are already facing revenue crunches from soon to be implemented price cutsbrought about by government pressure.
Reuters earlier reported the regulator KCC planned to raise 1.15 trillion won from the auction.
Melissa Chua


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