SEOUL — A service fee price war with arch rivals saw South Korea’s top wireless operator SK Telecom hemorrhage profits in the third quarter, according to a company earnings report Monday. SK Telecom and two other major players in South Korea’s small and saturated wireless market have focused all their efforts on competing for domestic customer share after efforts to go global stalled.
Earlier this year, the company rolled out a series of discounts in monthly and subscription fees to counter similar moves by rivals KT and LG Uplus. The company’s net profit for July to October amounted to 381.8 billion won (US$335.2 million), down 28.1 percent from a year ago, the Seoul-based firm said in a statement.
Operating profit fell 8.6 percent to 490.6 billion won during the same period, while sales also sagged 2.4 percent to 4.2 trillion won. A fall in the value of SK Hynix — a chip-making affiliate in which SK Telecom has a 20-percent stake — further cut its earnings, the company said.
SK Telecom has about 27 million subscribers, with about 65 percent using ultra-fast and expensive 4G services.
South Korea boasts some 42.6 million smartphone users in a population of 51 million.