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Mobile users embrace choice

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May 05,2005
The Information Ministry reported yesterday that more than 10 million people chose the government-created cell phone prefix 010 last month, showing that the government’s efforts to give customers more choices are working. In late April, 10.6 million people were using 010 as the first three digits of their cell phone number, just behind 011, which had 11 million users. The total number of cell phone users in Korea was 37 million as of last month. The cell phone prefixes were once the property of the major cell phone service providers, with SK Telecom controlling 011, LG Telecom with 019 and KTF had 016. In the past, SK Telecom charged more than its rivals, partly because its national network is much more extensive, and so the 011 prefix was seen as a kind of the “status” number to have. But last year, after the central government began allowing cell phone customers to change their service provider without having to change their numbers, the prefixes were no longer attached to any one service provider. The ministry also created the 010 prefix, which can be used by all mobile service providers, as part of its policy to increase choices for cell phone customers. Those applying for cell phone service for the first time are given 010 as well. “Before, people stuck to their mobile service provider because they didn’t want to change their phone number, but the new policy makes it easier for new companies to enter the market,” said Chang Suk-gwon, a business management professor at Hanyang University. Pyo Hyun-myeong, a marketing official at KTF, said that 010 is especially popular among younger people. “The young generation prefers 010 not only because it is trendy, but also because it is more convenient,” he said, because when 010 users call another 010 user, they don’t have to dial the prefix. by Wohn Dong-hee


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