South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) said it will make a decision on issuing a fourth mobile licence this week, after reviewing applications since November.

MSIP said in May it would introduce measures to pave the way for a fourth operator. The ministry has long discussed the need for an additional operator to bring more competition to the market, which is dominated by three operators — SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus. In August it started accepting applications.

Three companies — Sejong Telecom, K Mobile and Quantum Mobile — passed an initial government assessment in November, Konhap news agency reported.

A committee of 16 people is assessing the companies’ service, financial and technology capabilities.

The government introduced the plan to add another mobile player in 2010, but none of the firms applying for the licence in six bids have met the requirements.

Sejong Telecom is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). K Mobile was set up by executives who left Korea Mobile Internet, which failed to win a licence after six attempts. Quantum Mobile is held by a consortium, including Solid Inc, which took over South Korea’s smartphone maker Pantech.

SK Telecom has a 49 per cent share of the country’s mobile connections, while KT has a 32 per cent share and LG Uplus has a 19 per cent share, according to GSMA Intelligence.