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LTE subscriptions in S. Korea top 20 mln: data

All Headlines 15:43 April 12, 2013

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Long-term evolution (LTE) subscriptions in South Korea have recently topped the 20 million mark, roughly 20 months after the service for the fastest mobile connectivity was commercialized, industry data showed Friday.

The combined number of LTE subscribers at the country's three mobile operators -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- has surpassed the 20 million mark as of Wednesday, according to the industry data.

By company, LTE subscribers at top mobile carrier SK Telecom were estimated at 9.5 million to 9.6 million as of Wednesday, followed by 5.3 million to 5.4 million at LG Uplus and 5.11 million at KT.

"While the government has not officially announced the data, it seems the country's LTE subscriptions have passed the 20 million mark as of Wednesday given that SK Telecom claimed 47 percent of the market in February," said an industry official.

The feat comes around 20 months after SK Telecom and LG Uplus commercialized the fourth-generation service in July 2011. KT later joined the race in January 2012.

While it took roughly 13 months for LTE subscriptions to break the 10 million mark, it took only six months for subscriptions to add another 10 million.

The faster increase comes as manufacturers are rolling out a wider range of LTE phones and mobile operators are also focusing on expanding the lucrative service.

A heated marketing battle to capture more LTE subscribers even prompted Seoul's communications watchdog to impose business suspensions in addition to a combined 11.9 billion won (US$10.5 million) fine on the three mobile carriers.

The three mobile carriers, meanwhile, aim to secure 30 million LTE subscribers by the end of the year.

SK Telecom plans to provide the service to 14 million users while KT and LG Uplus are moving to raise the number of subscriptions to 8 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to expand domestic LTE coverage, the mobile carriers plan to introduce the service on Dokdo, South Korea's easternmost islets in the East Sea.

Some 40 permanent residents on the island as well as 210,000 tourists who visit the rocky outcroppings each year are expected to get LTE access as early as next week, according to the companies.

mil@yna.co.kr
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