SEOUL, March 27 South Korea's three mobile
carriers have brought forward the launch of Samsung Electronics
Co Ltd's flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone to Thursday,
in a bid to cushion the blow from a sales suspension slapped on
Regulators have banned SK Telecom Co Ltd, KT
Corp and LG UPlus Corp from signing up
new customers or replacing phones for some existing customers
for various periods totalling 45 days between March 13 and May
The bans coincide with the planned global launch of Galaxy
S5 on April 11, and sparked concerns that the key model could
get off to a slow start in its home market.
The model already lacks sweeping hardware improvements and
faces intensifying competition from smaller competitors at home
SK Telecom, South Korea's biggest mobile carrier, said it
started to offer the Galaxy S5 at 866,800 Korean won ($810) on
Thursday, cheaper than its predecessor.
The carrier has just over a week before it is forced to
suspend attracting new customers, or some existing ones, from
April 5 to May 19.
Its smaller rivals KT and LG UPlus, which are already under
sales restrictions, have also started selling the phone to
customers not covered by bans.
The global sales of Galaxy S4 were weaker than expected,
pulling down Samsung's earnings in October-December when the
world's top smartphone maker lost market share to Apple Inc's
iPhone 5S in the United States and Japan.
($1 = 1074.9500 Korean won)
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Paul Tait and Stephen