South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT reportedly plans to revoke the operating licence of Stage X, which was set to become the country’s fourth mobile operator.

The Korea Herald reported Stage X failed to meet legal requirements to run the business, meaning it will not be able to launch mobile services.

Stage X comprises a consortium led by messaging giant Kakao and including MVNO Stage Five.

The news comes a month after the start-up announced Rakuten Mobile as a strategic partner for a 5G service launch earmarked for the first half of 2025.

Korea’s government will conduct a hearing on the case to finalise its decision, cancelling a designation it set on the company being allowed to hold mobile frequencies.

Stage X secured 28GHz of spectrum to operate 5G services in February, committing to spend KRW430 billion ($311.6 million).

However, the company apparently failed to pay the amount in full and it emerged there were discrepancies in the ownership ratios of major shareholders compared with what was stated in its frequency allocation application.

In a press conference covered by The Korea Herald, second Vice Science Minister, Kang Do-Hyun stated the government sought an explanation, but the problems remain unresolved.

“We concluded the capital raising claimed by Stage X could not be trusted and that it would be difficult to properly carry out the business if the capital specified in the allocation application was not properly secured,” Kang added.