Regulator won't allow higher mobile rates
By Kim Yoo-chul
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Friday rejected demands by SK Telecom, the country’s top mobile-phone carrier, to raise its monthly consumer rates to offset its losses in voice revenue caused by free call services available on smartphones.
Under the current fair trade regulations, SK Telecom, which controls more than half of Korea’s wireless users, can’t set its consumer prices without approval from the telecommunications regulator.
SK Telecom is livid over the free voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) calls enabled by Kakao Talk, an immensely popular mobile messaging services, claiming that the services rattle its business to the core.
The company insists that the free calls leave it no options but to raise their prices, but KCC officials aren’t convinced.
``Telecommunications carriers are redesigning their service plan policies and it’s up to them to make adjustments. We won’t allow them to use mobile VoIP as an excuse to raise prices,’’ KCC official Kim Choong-shin said.
Chung Tae-cheol, a senior SK Telecom official, said that the company’s negotiation with the KCC over consumer charges is ongoing.
``Raising fees is an issue that is on the negotiation table,’’ he said.
Chang Yoon-shik, chairman of the Korea Mobile Virtual Network Operator (Korea MVNO) Chang Yoon-shik, raised concerns that the free VoIP calls will prove to be destructive as carriers struggle to handle the heavy data traffic. MVNOs are companies that lease voice minutes and data from mobile carriers and resell them under their own brands.
``When you think about highways, there are different tolling systems according to buses, trucks and cars. We need different guidelines according to content. We should regulate m-VoIP, separately,’’ said Chang.