KT launches LTE, shuns unlimited plans

John C. Tanner
03 Jan 2012

Korean incumbent operator KT launched its LTE service Tuesday after a month of delays, but contrary to speculation won’t be offering unlimited plans, despite allowing 3G customers to use LTE handsets.

KT’s LTE service is initially available in Seoul, and will be rolled out to 84 cities covering 90% of the population by April. KT chairman Lee Suk-chae said the cellco aims to sign on 4 million LTE subscribersby the end of the year, according to the Korea Herald.

KT is offering seven price packages for LTE, none of which offer an unlimited option. Earlier this week, a Korea Heraldreport said that KT would allow its 3G users to put their USIM cards in LTE handsets, leading to speculation that 3G users could transfer their unlimited data plans to LTE.

However, Lee said at a press conference Monday that “our networks will suffer from heavy data traffic” if LTE offered unlimited services, the Korea Timesreported.

KT – the last cellco in South Korea to offer LTE behind rivals SK Telecom and LG U+ – intended to launch LTE last month, but was forced to delay the launch after a court prevented it from shutting off its 2G CDMA service.

KT had planned to refarm the 1800-MHz spectrum from its 2G service for LTE, but 2G users filed a lawsuit demanding that the 2G network be kept running. Seoul’s High Court reversed that ruling on December 25, clearing the way for yesterday’s launch.

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