SK Telecom Co., South Korea's top mobile carrier by subscribers, started to shut down its 2G services Monday, following receiving government approval last month to terminate its 25-year-old network.
The telecom operator said it has begun switching off its 2G base stations in eight provinces and the central city of Sejong. It will phase out the service in the rest of the country by July 27.
The network, launched in 1996, has fallen out of favor over the years with the launch of newer networks, including 5G services.
As of the end of May, around 860,000 mobile devices were connected to 2G, accounting for just 1.2 percent of the total 69 million mobile subscription accounts in the country, ICT ministry data showed. SK Telecom had around 380,000 users on the 2G network.
The network's termination, however, faces resistance from a small group of 2G users who are forced to change their phone numbers on upgraded networks.
After June 2021, the first three digits of SK Telecom 2G users' phone numbers that start with 011 and 017 will all be changed to 010, which is used for 3G phones and higher.
Last month, the Seoul High Court dismissed the 633-member group's civil suit against the carrier's termination, but the group said it will take the matter to the country's highest court.
It will also file for an injunction to stop SK Telecom from terminating the 2G network.
SK Telecom's latest move comes after KT Corp., the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, ended 2G services in 2011. LG Uplus Corp. is expected to follow its rivals on 2G network termination. (Yonhap)