Commission urges fines, sales ban

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Commission urges fines, sales ban

Korea’s mobile carriers are facing hefty penalties for continuing to break government regulations against excessive subsidies on smartphones, including a ban on all sales for a month.

The Korea Communication Commission yesterday decided to propose the penalties to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning for failing to comply with the government’s earlier order to stop smartphone subsidies immediately.

If imposed, this would be the first time in 10 years that the government penalized telecommunication companies for breaking government orders. It would also be the longest sales suspension for mobile carriers in six years.

The sales suspension would not only include new subscribers but also the switching of older models for newer ones.

The commission said it identified more than 20,000 cases last month of giving excessive subsidies to consumers. On Dec. 27, it slapped the three mobile carriers with the largest fine in the history of the telecommunications industry: more than 100 billion won, or $94.4 million.

Although subsidies varied by location and retailer, many exceeded the government’s limit of 270,000 won. In some cases, the subsidy exceeded the retail price of the smartphone.

BY CHOI JI-YOUNG, LEE HO-JEONG [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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