South Korea’s ‘big three’ operators, facing temporary bans on device sales as punishment for excessive handset subsidies, are apparently ignoring Samsung’s wish for a global launch of its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone on 11 April.
According to a Bloomberg report, SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator, has started selling the device from today (27 March), priced at KRW866,800 ($810), in both retail stores and online. SK Telecom begins its device sale ban on 5 April.
Existing customers of KT and LG Uplus, according to Bloomberg, can purchase the device “under certain conditions”.
In an emailed statement, Samsung said it was “very puzzled” by SK Telecom’s decision.
“SK Telecom strongly asked for an earlier release of the product but we delivered our stance that the global release date of 11 April remains unchanged,” said the South Korean manufacturer.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, on 7 March, said SK Telecom’s ban would stretch from 5 April to 19 May.
Second-ranked KT is currently banned until 26 April, while restrictions on LG UPlus are in place until April 4 and then resume 27 April.
According to local media reports, South Korea’s telecoms regulator, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), subsequently slapped an additional ban on two operators – SK Telecom and LG Uplus – of seven and 14 days respectively.