LG Telecom Says Big Carriers Bar Access

Korea carrier accuses rivals SK Telecom and KTF of keeping customers from switching because of number portability issues

Leading wireless operators, SK Telecom and KTF, are accused of having colluded to launch a two-pronged attack on the country's smallest player, LG Telecom.

Industry regulator Korea Communications Commission, which is in charge of overseeing the domestic telecom markets, is set to conduct a probe on the allegations.

The Seoul-headquartered LG Telecom said SK Telecom and KTF had prevented their users from moving to LG Telecom via the number portability system.

“Midway through last month, we learned SK Telecom and KTF had partially disenabled computer networks to bar their users from defecting to us,'' LG Telecom spokesman Lee Jung-hwan said. ”Plus, they conspired to lure our users to them by offering very heavy subsidies.”

“They seemingly joined forces to check our success based on the number portability system,'' Lee said.

The number portability system, introduced in 2004, enables mobile customers to shift wireless operators without having to change their numbers.

Aimed at diluting the dominance of market leaders, the formula was applied merely to business bellwether SK Telecom for the first six months before being applied to KTF in July 2004.

The rule covered LG Telecom beginning 2005 and understandably, the biggest beneficiary of the system was LG Telecom that boosted its user base from 4.8 million in January 2004 to 7.1 million in two years.

© 2007 Korea Times

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