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SK Telecom to Spend $924 Million for 4G Spectrum in Korea

SK Telecom Co., the largest mobile-phone carrier in South Korea, won the rights to use a key frequency for fourth-generation phone service for 995 billion won ($924 million) in the country’s first auction of spectrum.

The carrier won 20 megahertz of airwaves in the 1.8-gigahertz frequency band, the Korea Communications Commission said in a statement today. KT Corp. dropped out of the race because the bidding was too competitive, the Seongnam, South Korea-based carrier said in a statement. KT was awarded 10 megahertz in the 800 megahertz range for 261 billion won, according to the statement by the company.

Bids for the 1.8-gigahertz band had almost doubled since the auction began on Aug. 17, as South Korea’s two largest mobile-phone carriers sought to secure more spectrum amid surging data use before they begin 4G wireless services. SK will use the frequency based on the long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, the carrier said in a statement.

“The band is globally preferred,” Park Jong Soo, a Seoul-based analyst for Hanwha Securities Co., said. “SK didn’t have a proper LTE-related frequency. It’s better for them in the mid-to-long term to get this frequency at a high cost than to lose it.”

Shares in SK rose 2.1 percent to 147,500 won as of 11:38 a.m., while the benchmark Kospi index gained 2.7 percent. SK Telecom began LTE service in Seoul in July and plans to expand coverage nationwide by 2013.

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