The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) has implemented a new piece of legislation today which breaks the country's carrier triopoly on mobile phone sales. Up until now, Koreans wanting a new device have had no choice but to go to one of the Country's three carriers — KT, SK Telecom, or LG U+ — to purchase and activate their phone. Carriers were under no obligation to activate devices bought off-contract, and other stores were prohibited from selling directly to consumers.
Under the new law, supermarkets, manufacturers, websites, and other stores will be able to sell devices without a contract, which can later be activated on the network of the customer's choice. The move could be a catalyst for companies like Microsoft and Apple to start pushing phones either through existing retailers or, as in the US, by entering the market with their own retail stores.
The KCC is negotiating with carriers to ensure that service plans remain the same price regardless of where customers buy their phones. Although a large number of consumers in South Korea demanded the policy, the lack of any significant advertising campaign means that many are unaware of the changes. Once phones start being sold alongside groceries, however, people will likely start taking notice.
Hyunhu Jang contributed to this report