Phones to be available at all stores from today
By Cho Mu-hyun
The law allowing consumers to buy mobile phones from local department stores and online instead of a retail outlet owned by mobile carriers goes into force today.
The new system, dubbed the “black list system,” was implemented by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to lessen the prices of cellphones set by telecommunications service providers such as KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus that were deemed high by the public. The increase of distribution channels, according to the KCC would mitigate the problem.
Before the new law, cellphones were available only in company owned retailers and required subscription by consumers to use the cellphones for calls and other services.
“The domestic market has been based on high-priced mobile devices unlike other countries. We believe that this is not because the consumer’s demand for low and middle priced handsets is small, but it was due to domestic telecommunications companies’ marketing strategy,” said KCC in a statement.
The KCC highlighted that a direct purchase from department stores will unburden consumers from the subsidies paid to telecommunications companies during the initial buying of handsets. Instead, consumers can now buy any model available on the market, and then subscribe the device to the telecommunications company of his or her choosing.
The law is supposed to start today with related data processing, legal and administrative process. However, the actual release of mobile devices at local department stores and online shopping websites will take a couple of month due to global sourcing, and to make domestic and foreign releases compatible with each other.
Consumers bringing in mobile gadgets from overseas will no longer require model registration with telecommunications companies, but only a declaration to the KCC.
But there are still some issues that need to be resolved by the KCC, such as service fees.
Companies are offering sales and reductions in service fees for cellphones bought from its own retail outlets, but are hesitant to offer the same package deal for handsets bought elsewhere.
“For the new law to function, telecommunications companies need to improve service fees,” said an official of the KCC.