An odd bit of news has come out of South Korea today, where it seems some major carriers won’t be able to take advantage of selling the Samsung Galaxy S5 on launch. The Government has wrist-slapped SK Telecom, LG U+, and Korea Telecom, banning them for several weeks during and around the launch of the device. Oddly enough, banning them may prevent a repeat of their original offense.
In South Korea, carriers are not allowed to subsidize devices for more than $249. It seems that each of the three carriers broke that rule, subsidizing devices for much more than the threshold allows. This means the carriers were effectively breaking the law, but in lieu of a penalty, the Government in South Korea is taking alternative measures.
From last week through May 19th, each carrier will have a blackout period in which they can’t sell phones. Korea Telecom will be off the radar from March 12 through April 26. SK Telecom will go dormant between April 5 and May 19, and LG U+ has a split window in which they must stop selling devices: March 13 through April 4, and April 27 through May 18.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 goes on sale April 11 in South Korea, so LG U+ — the smallest of the three carriers — will be the only one able to take advantage of launch day sales. To many consumers, this effectively puts the Galaxy S5 launch on hold, as changing carriers is likely not plausible for many. The smaller carrier having a two-week window around launch to sell the device really evens the playing field a bit, so we actually like that aspect of it. Halting sales of one of the more desirable devices in South Korea on launch, though? Gutsy.