E-Mart offers altteul phone discounts

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E-Mart offers altteul phone discounts


E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount store chain, will offer discounts on monthly fees of thrifty mobile phones based on the amount consumers spend at the store.

The chain introduced the so-called altteul shopping discount yesterday under the mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) service, which has monthly fees as much as 47 percent cheaper than those of the three major service providers.

MVNOs are mobile phone operators that borrow telecommunication networks and frequencies from established telecom companies.

Altteul phones are sold at Homeplus, convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven and GS25, and branches of Korea Post.

E-Mart said a customer who spends 34,000 won ($31.89) for monthly altteul fees will receive an average discount of 25,000 won for spending 400,000 won at the store.

Additional discounts of up to 15,000 won can be earned by using E-Mart’s mobile affiliate credit card.

And any excess credit can be carried over to the following month.

Other discounts apply to the purchase of products from E-Mart suppliers.

Consumers who purchase 10,000 won worth of Ottogi products receive a 1,000 won discount, and when they purchase 20,000 won worth of Amore Pacific or Dongsuh Maxim Coffee, they will receive a 1,000 won discount from each company.

Another feature of E-Mart’s shopping discount altteul phone is that it has widened the choices for the latest mobile phones, including LTE-A model and 3G feature phones, from the existing altteul phones that offered limited choices.

E-Mart said it will introduce 10 kinds of devices including the latest Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G2, Vega LTE-A and 3G feature phones as well as E-Mart’s own prepaid phones.

Furthermore, the discount chain said it is continuously discussing development of an E-Mart exclusive phone to create a device optimized for shopping discounts with domestic mobile handset manufacturers like Samsung and Pantech.

The associated mobile operator is SK Telecom, the nation’s No. 1 mobile carrier.

The discount store said it decided to cooperate with SK Telecom, which has the highest brand awareness among consumers, because the quality of phone calls appeared to be customers’ biggest concern in its survey.

It will introduce 40 plans for thrifty phones, the largest number in thrifty phone plans, which provide unlimited free calls with SK Telecom customers as well as MVNO customers of SK Telecom.

The thrifty phone market has been growing in Korea since it first appeared at Homeplus earlier this year as the cost of communication becomes a significant financial burden for households.

The average monthly communication cost of all households nationwide was estimated at 157,600 won in the first quarter of this year, up 17.5 percent from five years ago.

The cost has been growing ever since the fourth quarter of 2009, posting an 11 percent increase in the first quarter of last year and a 13 percent increase in the second quarter last year.?

The share of communication fees in household consumption has also posted a record high of 7.2 percent in the second quarter of 2012 and maintained its level at about 7 percent since then.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Korea was third highest in communication cost as a share of household consumption among member nations, and mobile communication fees were higher than those of any other country.

Accordingly, the altteul phone market has more than 2 million subscribers, and it is expected that the number of subscribers will exceed 2.5 million by the end of this year.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning projected that the number of altteul phone subscribers will reach as many as 5 million subscribers within five years.

Thus, E-Mart aims to attract 1 million subscribers of altteul phones within three years.

“E-Mart’s shopping discount altteul phone does not only sell products, but will become the new starting point that will contribute to lessening the burden of high communication cost by providing as much benefits as possible to customers by slashing the fees,” said Heo In-cheol, E-Mart’s CEO.?

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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