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Galaxy S5 launch parties to fizzle in Samsung's back yard

Korean courts ban top carriers from selling new mobes

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The launch of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone the Galaxy S5 could be derailed in its home market after the South Korean government slapped a business ban on the country’s three largest operators.

The 45-day ban will prevent SK Telecom, KT Corporation and LG UPlus from signing up new customers, selling new phones or upgrading devices for customers on contracts less than two years old, according to Reuters.

SK’s ban apparently lasts from April 5 to May 19; SK’s is March 13 to April 26; and LG UPlus from March 13 to April 4 and April 27 to May 18.

With the S5 at present set to launch worldwide on April 11, the ban will leave Samsung without some much needed first month sales in its home market.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for the chaebol giant, reports emerged from South Korea over the weekend that a large fire at a supplier factory making PCBs for the S5 had caused $1bn worth of damage.

Sammie could do with a good performance from the Galaxy S5, especially as sales of its predecessor dragged at the tail end of last year.

However, El Reg was not bowled over when we got our hands on it at Mobile World Congress last month, claiming that despite the hype, the new smartphone is “not a soaraway market-beating product”.

For the record, the 45-day business ban was imposed on the operator trio because they offered excessive inducements to customers, which amounted to a “subsidy war”, according to the Korea Times.

Local laws apparently state the maximum amount of subsidies an operator can offer is 250,000 won (£140).

It’s not the first time they’ve been penalised by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP).

Last year the three were apparently fined millions of dollars and banned from signing up new punters for similar reasons. ®

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