Starting next April, foreign handset manufacturers such as Apple, Inc. and Nokia will be allowed to market their devices to customers in South Korea as a result of a decision by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to abolish rules requiring Internet-enabled handsets sold in Korea to run on the domestically-developed Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability (WIPI) standard. Handed down on Wednesday, the KCC ruling is said to represent the most visible market-opening step in the nine-month-old administration of President Lee Myung-bak, who promised in his campaign to move Korea beyond the era of protectionism. Adopted three years ago, rules requiring Internet-enabled cell phones to operate on WIPI were intended to facilitate the development of web-based services by Korean software firms and wireless service providers. The directive has also enabled local handset producers Samsung and LG collectively to wrest control of a 90% share of the nation’s handset market. While noting that Korea’s cell phone market has become more efficient since the rule was implemented, the KCC admitted that the rule has limited consumer choice and has left Korea “out of step” with global technology trends. Analysts also observed that the rule’s abolition will enable SK Telecom and KTF—Korea’s top two wireless carriers—to “release the iPhone and other quality handsets from foreign makers, which will help them boost their average revenue per user through increased mobile data sales.”