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Gov't nixes consortium's application for new mobile carrier license

All Headlines 16:57 July 24, 2014

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ICT ministry said Thursday it has turned down a local consortium's application for a license to do business as the country's fourth mobile carrier for the sixth time, citing its unclear funding plan.

"While the largest shareholder of Korea Mobile Internet (KMI) is a yet-to-be established entity, its plan to raise cash from overseas also remains unclear," the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.

KMI is a local consortium that consists of mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs.

The ministry currently requires candidates to be the new mobile carrier to achieve a grade of at least 70 out of 100 to obtain the license. The ministry give the applicants scores after assessing their service capabilities, financial health, technology and consumer protection plan. KMI only received 62.3 points.

The ministry said a team of 15 experts recommended by telecom-related institutions looked over KMI's bid.

The decision came four months after KMI, which rents networks from existing mobile operators, submitted a bid for a license to the ministry in March to provide services based on the long-term evolution time-division duplex (LTE TDD) network.

The LTE-TDD network is a fourth-generation mobile technology developed and led by China, while the frequency-division LTE was adopted by South Korea, the U.S., Japan and other nations.

"KMI's business plan to attract 8.6 million users in five years is also seen as too optimistic, considering the local mobile network market is already saturated," an official from the ministry said.

The company failed to obtain licenses in five previous attempts due to a range of technical problems with the bidding procedures, Currently, three mobile companies -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp -- operate in South Korea's mobile network market.

colin@yna.co.kr
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