SK Telecom also offers unlimited LTE data

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SK Telecom also offers unlimited LTE data

SK Telecom, Korea’s biggest mobile carrier, on Saturday joined KT and LG U+ in announcing it will offer unlimited data use on the fourth-generation long-term evolution (LTE) network. The change takes effect Thursday.

Last Friday, KT and LG U+ said they would provide the unlimited data plan for a trial period of three months. LG U+’s service starts Thursday and KT’s on Friday.

The three carriers were banned from recruiting new customers for 20 days by the Korea Communications Commission after they were accused of offering excessive subsidies. The recruitment ban expires Wednesday for LG U+. SKT’s 20-day ban starts Thursday, followed by KT’s on Feb. 22.

“Unlimited data is a sort of insurance for our subscribers so they can avoid getting a huge bill,” said Won Jong-gyu, an executive at LG U+’s mobile division.

“We hope many customers get to enjoy this benefit, as we took the lead to introduce such service despite the burden falling [on us] to invest more in network expansion.”

SKT will allow 18 gigabytes of data a month on the LTE network for 119,900 won ($111). Anyone exceeding that amount will be limited to an additional 3 gigabytes a day at the same speed, with data in excess of 3 gigabytes at a slower speed.

KT has three price levels for unlimited service plans. The cheapest 104,500 won program includes 14 gigabytes of data on LTE and the most expensive, 143,000 won, allows 25 gigabytes. Beyond that, there is a limit of 3 gigabytes a day on LTE before data transmission slows to 2 megabytes per second, the speed for the 3G network.

LG’s plans are virtually identical.

Unlimited data plans on the 3G network started at about 50,000 won per month, so even the cheapest pricing option for unlimited data on LTE is almost double.

Such a situation contradicts the communications watchdog’s recent resolve to lower phone bills.

Meanwhile, there is some concern that the proliferation of unlimited high-speed LTE plans will slow down network speeds for everyone.

The amount of data used each month by individual LTE subscribers is 1,775 megabytes, about 1.6 times more the average of 1,117 megabytes for 3G network users, according to Korea Communications Commission figures from last October.

Also, the number of LTE network users is on the rising as users of 2G and 3G declines, which will add to the strain on the fourth-generation network. The number of LTE users among all mobile phone subscribers grew to 23.8 percent in October from 3.7 percent in January.

In the 3G and 4G networks, the top 10 percent data users account for 28.9 percent of all use.


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

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