SK Telecom (SKT) called on South Korea’s government to allocate additional mid-band 5G spectrum in an auction planned for February, as the operator seeks access to adjacent bands to optimise its network.

In a request submitted to the Ministry of Science and Technology, SKT proposed allocating 40MHz of spectrum in the frequencies above 3.7GHz.

SKT stated this would enable “fair competition” by giving South Korean operators the opportunity to secure additional 5G frequencies.

The ministry plans to auction 20MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum next month following a request by LG Uplus. The allocation suits the operator’s holdings of 80MHz in the 3.4GHz to 3.5GHz range.

SKT and KT each have 100MHz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.6GHz to 3.7GHz, and 3.5GHz to 3.6GHz ranges respectively.

Industry insiders noted it will be more expensive for SKT and KT to use the spectrum if they win the auction.