By Lee Ji-yoon
KT Corp, the nation’s second-largest telecom operator, plans to start its long-awaited Long Term Evolution service from next week after a Seoul court gave it the green light on Monday to ditch its feature phone service.
According to KT, it will shut down the second-generation network service in phases, first in Seoul at 10 a.m. on Jan. 3, starting faster LTE service straight away on that day.
The Seoul High Court on Monday overturned a lower court ruling in favor of some 900 users who filed a lawsuit last month against the Korea Communications Commission to nullify its approval of KT’s 2G service shutdown.
KT has persuaded customers to switch to 3G or change their service carriers as it plans to start the faster LTE service in the 1.8 GHz band that it has been using for 2G services.
Some 2G users resisted, taking fierce legal action early this month. And the Seoul Administrative Court admitted “Irreversible damages are expected for the remaining 2G users.” KT and the state-run telecommunications regulator appealed immediately.
“The damages caused as they are not offered the 2G service can be compensated by exercising their rights for compensation claim, while those from switching their phone numbers are due to the prefix unification policy to 010,” said the Monday ruling.
The court also found no problem in KT’s notification process for its 2G service halt and emphasized the welfare of the majority of mobile service users.
“We need to consider the efficient use of frequency band. There are only 100,000 users for KT’s 20 MHz band, while LG Uplus has 9 million users,” the court said.
The court also raised antitrust concerns.
“If KT’s entry into the 4G service is delayed further, SK Telecom and LG Uplus are likely to enjoy excessive market dominance,” it said
SK Telecom and LG Uplus, the No. 1 and 3 network provider, have started the faster LTE service in July, with the number of the nation’s LTE users surpassing the 1 million mark recently.