Samsung Galaxy S5 gets early release in South Korea

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Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has gone on sale early in South Korea as three mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, planned to work around penalties imposed by the national regulator.

SK Telecom, the largest mobile carrier in South Korea, started selling the Galaxy S5 at 866,800 Korean won ($810) on Thursday, two weeks ahead of the scheduled launch.

Samsung had long confirmed that the latest smartphone Galaxy S5’s release would be on April 11 covering more than 150 countries. The company claimed this earlier-than-scheduled release to be made “independently” by the carrier without its consent.

“We are very puzzled,” said Samsung in an email. “SK Telecom strongly asked for an earlier release of the product but we delivered our stance that the global release date of April 11 remains unchanged.”

Irene Kim, a spokeswoman for SK Telecom told Bloomberg “We decided to release the product for a wider consumer choice of handsets before our operation suspension begins on April 5.”

Regulators have banned SK Telecom Co Ltd, KT Corp and LG UPlus Corp from accepting new customers for a period of 45 days, between 13 March and 19 May. The networks are charged with offering excessive (illegal) smartphone subsidies.

The suspension will come into play for SK Telecom on 5 April until 19 May, while KT’s ban applies until 26 April. LG’s Uplus network will face suspension between 4 April and 27 April.

Since the ban coincides with the global roll out of Galaxy S5, the carriers are likely trying to sell as many smartphone as they can before the ban goes into effect.

SK Telecom has just over a week before it is forced to suspend attracting new customers. KT and LG UPlus, already under sales restrictions, have also started selling the latest smartphone.