The release of Apple's new iPhone with fourth-generation LTE technology will stir up the Korean telecom market since it will be available from only two of the three service providers here.
Apple as usual left Korea out of a list of countries chosen for the first release, slated for Sep. 21, and the second on Sept. 28. Industry insiders expect the iPhone 5 to hit stores here next month.
Apple chose SK Telecom and KT, but the bandwidth used by LG Uplus cannot handle voice calls, so the provider lost out.
SK Telecom is the No. 1 LTE service provider with 5.2 million subscribers, followed by LG Uplus with 3.4 million subscribers and KT with 2.6 million. But if LG Uplus misses out on the massive sales the iPhone 5 is expected to generate, it is likely to surrender its position.
SK Telecom expects to maintain its solid lead, and KT hopes to overtake LG Uplus.
LG Uplus tried to downplay the threat. "The iPhone 5 is not as innovative as originally expected, so we don't expect a huge impact on the market," a peeved spokesman claimed.