Mobile billing gets scrutiny

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Mobile billing gets scrutiny

Effective Jan. 1, mobile carriers must receive approval from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning before instituting new billing plans.

Carriers will have to submit estimates of the number of subscribers, profits, voice calls, text messages and data traffic.

They also will have to reveal plans for network investments and report the cost of any new billing plan.

“In the past, authorization of the billing plans was stipulated in the law, but not specified in the enforcement decree. In order to thoroughly work on the billing plan authorization, the ministry specifically and systematically stipulated the standards for the first time and released them online,” said Shim Gyu-yeol, spokesman for the ministry.

Carriers that account for more than half of each communications market will have to submit related data required by the standard and undergo a screening process.

In the mobile communications market, SK Telecom will have to receive authorization for any new billing plan. In the local phone service market, KT must get approval.

They also will have to present data comparing new billing plans to existing plans.

Based on this, the ministry will decide whether the new plan provides adequate services and charges suitable fees, and whether the mobile carriers increase the financial burden on subscribers.

The ministry will also examine whether the mobile carriers carefully considered the cost of supplying the service and allowed for further investment and changes in future data traffic when they estimated the price of the new billing plan.

The ministry also will also examine whether the new billing plan impedes fair competition among mobile operators. If the new plan potentially blocks the launch of similar plans and is designed to maintain a dominant position in the market, it will not likely pass through the screening procedure for authorization, according to the ministry.

Its impact on the interests of users also will be an important criterion. Whether it discriminates against certain users, or limits the service according to different devices, contents and services will be subject to inspection.

The authorization will be decided within 90 days of application through the comprehensive examination by an advisory council consisting of more than two experts from the economics, management, accounting, law, technology and consumer protection sectors.


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

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