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Price war hits South Korea's top wireless operator

[SEOUL] Cut-throat competition with rivals in a saturated local telecom market took a big slice out of SK Telecom's profits in 2015, South Korea's top wireless operator said Tuesday.

The company's net profit for 2015 fell 15.8 per cent from the previous year to 1.52 trillion won (S$1.85 billion).

SK Telecom has been staging a fierce subscription fee price war with two other major players - KT and LG Uplus - in the small, already crowded domestic market.

A fall in the earnings of SK Hynix - a chipmaking affiliate in which SK Telecom has a 20 per cent stake - further cut into profits in 2015.

Revenue edged down 0.2 per cent on-year as the company eliminated sign-up fees and offered subscription discounts for mobile services and network interconnections to secure customer share.

SK Telecom's subscribers grew 1.2 per cent last year to 28.6 million, with 66.3 per cent using ultra-fast services.

As of the end of November last year, South Korea had 43 million smartphone users among its 51.5 million population.