(LEAD) Stage X picked as new mobile carrier in S. Korea

SEOUL, A local consortium was selected as the new operator of the 28 gigahertz (GHz) band of the fifth-generation network (5G) in South Korea on Wednesday, the science ministry said, becoming the country's fourth mobile carrier. Stage X, a consortium of Stage Five, a communications affiliate of tech giant Kakao Corp., and other unidentified companies, will be the fourth operator of the 5G network. Currently, three major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- are the country's sole operators of the network. Stage X won the 28 GHz band on the fifth day of the auction against Sejong Telecom Inc. and Mobile Consortium, writing in the highest bid of 430.1 billion won (US$322.1 million), according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. In the previous auction in 2018, the country's three major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- won the same spectrum in the low 200 billion-won range. However, these three operators lost the license for the new 28 GHz spectr um last year due to insufficient investment. As a response, the South Korean government has taken steps to introduce a new operator to foster competition in an industry traditionally dominated by the three major carriers. 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. "We will work to become a new brand in the communications market and facilitate fresh and innovative changes in the market by boosting the 5G network service," Stage X CEO Seo Sang-won said. Stage X said it plans to distribute cellphones that support the 5G 28 GHz spectrum through cooperation with Samsung Electronics Co., as well as global players like Apple Inc. and Google. Source: Yonhap News Agency