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Telecoms try saving landlines

Wired and even newer Internet phones given away for almost free

Apr 02,2014
As more households give up landline telephones, fixed-line operators are offering free home phones included in packages to keep up their wired services.

They’re offering free Internet phones, too, which seemed to be replacing landlines a few years ago. But their subscribers are decreasing as consumers choose to do everything on mobile devices.

SK Broadband launched a package that provides fixed-line phone services for almost free in conjunction with Internet and IPTV services.

SK Broadband said yesterday it launched its Unlimited Home Phone package that provides an unlimited number of phone calls between customers of SK Broadband and 5,000 minutes of free phone calls with subscribers of other carriers for 2,000 won ($1.88) a month.

Customers should subscribe to SK Broadband’s three-year contract for a landline telephone, ultrahigh-speed Internet and IPTV to enjoy the service at the price. The entire package costs 31,000 won a month.

Subscribers also get a free caller ID service.

“The Unlimited Home Phone product can not only reduce users’ communication costs, but it’s also an innovative product differentiated from existing home phone products of other fixed-line operators,” said Yang Joo-hyeok, marketing planning director at SK Broadband.

“We will lead the fixed-line market through innovative services and customer-oriented product development in the future.”

Other telecommunications operators are offering free gifts worth 400,000 won to 550,000 won to new subscribers of packages.

Since the Korea Communications Commission limits the value of incentives to 220,000 won for ultrahigh-speed Internet and IPTV products and 250,000 won for ultrahigh-speed Internet, IPTV and Internet phones, the telecommunications companies have began offering cash, bags, laptops and TVs as gifts for new subscribers.

Landline phone accounts shrunk 50,000 to 17.5 million as of the end of February, according to the Science Ministry. At the end of 2011, the number of fixed-line phone users was more than 19.6 million.

The number of Internet phone subscribers decreased 5,400 to 12.63 million as of the end of February from a month earlier, the ministry reported.

Industry analysts say the telecommunications operators are focusing on Internet and IPTV products as the government toughens regulations on subsidies for smartphones.

“The packages can also allow companies to secure customers for a period of two to five years once they subscribe,” said a local market analyst. “As the mobile communications industry is strictly monitored by the government, the companies seem to have turned their attention to Internet phones and IPTV products, and competition among the operators is likely to intensify.”

BY kim jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]





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