Stage X, a consortium of Kakao’s Stage Five and other unidentified companies, has become South Korea’s fourth mobile carrier after winning the 28 GHz auction held by the Ministry of Science and ICT. The new operator won the 28 GHz band on the fifth day of the auction against Sejong Telecom and My Mobile Consortium after pledging the highest bid of KRW 430.1 billion (USD 322.1 million), according to the ministry. 

The final price was comfortably over early analyst expectations it would be sold for around KRW 100 billion. In the previous auction in 2018, the country’s three major mobile carriers, SK Telecom Co, KT  and LG Uplus won the same spectrum in the low KRW 200 billion range, according to Yonhap. However, the three largest operators lost their 28 GHz licences last year due to insufficient investment.

Stage X will be required to build 6,000 base stations nationwide within the first three years and implement measures to address frequency congestion and interference. The operator said it plans to distribute mobile phones that support the 5G 28 GHz spectrum through cooperation with Samsung, as well as Apple and Google. Stage X CEO Seo Sang-won promised to “facilitate fresh and innovative changes in the market by boosting the 5G network service.”

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