South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) has announced it is cancelling the spectrum licences in the 28GHz band which had previously been awarded to KT Corp and LG Uplus, while also revealing it is shortening the duration of SK Telecom’s concession for frequencies in the same band.

With 28GHz spectrum having been secured by all three players at auction back in 2018 – alongside 3.5GHz spectrum allocations – all concessions contained a condition requiring that the operators construct at least 22,500 base stations using the latter band and 15,000 using the former band within three years. However, the MSIT has now said that following an inspection of the trio’s network it has determined that, although the target for construction in the 3.5GHz band had been achieved, the cellcos had fallen far short of the requirements in the 28GHz band.

According to the MSIT, with both KT and LG Uplus having scored fewer than 30 points in its inspection, it was cancelling their respective spectrum allocations in line with the terms outlined in the initial spectrum award announcement. Meanwhile, SKT has been given a temporary reprieve after narrowly scoring above a 30-point threshold – it scored 30.5 points, compared to 28.9 and 27.3 for LG Uplus and KT, respectively. As a result, SKT’s concession will remain valid until 31 May 2023, but should it fail to have achieve the mandated rollout target for 28GHz base stations by that date, the MSIT has confirmed its licence will also be cancelled.

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