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LTE subscribers near 23 mln in S. Korea

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- The number of subscribers to the so-called long-term evolution (LTE) mobile network in the country amounted to some 23 million last month, government data showed on Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Science, Creative and Future Planning, a total of 22.9 million people subscribed to the LTE service as of end-June, accounting for 40.8 percent of all mobile phone users.

The end-June figure was up from 2.19 million the month before, the data showed. The LTE service was introduced in the country in July 2011.

The ministry data showed the comparable figure for the 3G mobile network service stood at 22.1 million as of last month, down from 22.7 million the previous month.

By mobile operator, SK Telecom Co., the country's leading mobile carrier, had the largest number of LTE service subscribers with 11 million, followed by KT Corp. with 6.05 million and LG Uplus Corp. with 5.89 million.

Meanwhile, the data also showed that the number of mobile phone subscribers to the so-called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) is expected to hit 2 million this month, according to the data.

MVNOs borrow networks from existing mobile carriers at wholesale prices, allowing them to offer their services at cheaper rates compared to existing mobile operators due to not having to spend large amounts of money on big buildings to house their own mobile networks, a huge barrier for new players entering the market.

The number of subscribers to MVNOs reached 1.94 million last month, after surpassing the 1-million mark in October 2012, and the 1.5-million in March of this year.

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