S.Korea lifts rule on mobile platform, opens market

SEOUL Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:08am EST

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SEOUL Dec 10 (Reuters) - South Korea said on Wednesday it would lift a rule that forces handsets sold domestically to use a locally developed mobile device platform, opening the market to more foreign cellphones.

South Korean regulators require all mobile phones sold in the country to include Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability (WIPI), which has prevented many foreign makers, including iPhone maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O), selling their products to Korean carriers.

South Korea's mobile phone market is dominated by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS), which mostly offers high-priced models at home.

The Korea Communication Commission said in a statement that adopting WIPI would no longer be mandatory from April 1, 2009.

With the smartphone market growing fast, makers increasingly turn to popular mobile operating systems such as Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android and open-source Linux software.

"The deregulation will help us to respond to the global technology trend and widen consumer choices," the commission said. (Reporting by Rhee So-eui, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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