South Korean operators threatened legal action after hitting an impasse with the government over what they say is an unrealistic price for 2G, 3G and 4G spectrum to be reallocated in 2021, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The Ministry of Science and ICT wants SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus to pay at least KRW3.2 trillion ($2.9 billion) compared with the KRW1.65 trillion the operators proposed, the news agency wrote.

Yonhap News Agency explained the government price is conditional upon the operators each deploying 150,000 5G base stations by 2022. The operators argue the fee should be lower, since they are likely to each have 100,000 sites, up from 40,000 to 50,000 at end-August.

The government plans to set the final price by the end the month and open applications for redistribution in December.

Earlier this month, the three operators called on the government to hold auctions to reallocate the spectrum, which expires in June 2021.

The operators paid KRW3.6 trillion in June 2018 for 5G spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands and have invested heavily in new networks over the past two years.