South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) has unveiled plans to allocate spectrum in the 700MHz (738MHz-748MHz/793MHz-803MHz) and 28GHz (26.5GHz-27.3GHz) bands, noting that the frequencies will be available to new operators as part of efforts to enhance competition in the country’s mobile sector, with the nation’s incumbent cellcos barred from bidding.

According to the MSIT, it will offer the spectrum via an auction process and is hopeful of selling the frequencies as a nationwide allocation. However, the regulator notes that it will also open applications for the frequencies on a regional basis (across a total of seven regions) and proceed to allocate spectrum in that fashion should a nationwide operator not be found. In terms of pricing, the MSIT has set a KRW74.2 billion (USD58 million) minimum for the national concession, with regional pricing ranging from KRW1.8 billion to KRW33.7 billion, dependent on the region.

Further, the regulator has confirmed that a national concession will include an obligation related to base station construction; a total of 6,000 28GHz base stations must be built within three years of spectrum allocation for a national licensee, while separate per-region construction requirements have also been set should the spectrum be allocated regionally.

Keen to offer would-be bidders plenty of time to consider participating in the sale process, the MSIT has revealed that it will open applications for the spectrum from 20 November 2023, with the application period to last until 19 December 2023.

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