Free voice talk app limited

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Free voice talk app limited

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Under a new ruling, mobile carriers can now decide for themselves whether to allow or limit their subscribers’ use of KakaoTalk’s Voice Talk service, as well as other free messaging and calling services, using mobile voice over Internet protocol (mVoIP).

The Korea Communications Commission issued yesterday a set of guidelines to cool the debate on whether the networks set up by these telecom companies should grant free use of the messaging services.

According to the road map, the carriers are allowed to control the traffic of mVoIP users when the network becomes overloaded. Currently, SK Telecom and KT, the country’s No. 1 and 2 carriers, only allow 3G network users who pay monthly fees exceeding 54,000 won ($46) to use mVoIP services.

LG U+, Korea’s No. 3 carrier, announced last month that it opened a similar service for all of its users.

The guidelines also allow the companies to restrict subscribers’ data usage when they are think too much data is being gobbled up on their networks in relation to standard levels.

Kakao, the operator of KakaoTalk, said the latest decision will not have a significant impact on its business strategies as the recent launch of the calling service was not aimed at expanding its user base or profits.

“Voice Talk, from the beginning, was just an additional service we provide to KakaoTalk users. It was never something we expected to see profits from,” said an official at Kakao.

However, industry officials warned the guidelines could hamper the growth of mobile messenger services.

“VoiceTalk may not be ‘killer content.’ But as these mobile messaging services try to gain a competitive edge by diversifying their services, they may run into problems when they set long-term plans,” said one pundit.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr], Yonhap

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