Gov’t reports use of thrifty phones soars

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Gov’t reports use of thrifty phones soars

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The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said yesterday the number of altteul, or thrifty, phones in use nearly doubled in a year to 2.48 million as of Dec. 31. Thrifty phones now account for 4.55 percent of the mobile phone market.

The altteul phone service (MVNO) provides affordable mobile communications services by borrowing radio wave spectrums from conventional mobile networks.

The growth in altteul subscribers was most pronounced in the fourth quarter, when the thrifty smartphones started selling at post offices and at E-Mart.

The 12 altteul phone businesses that provide service by borrowing from KT’s network had 1.165 million subscribers, while the nine operators borrowing from SK Telecom attracted 1.036. Seven businesses that borrowed from LG U+ had 280,000.

However, the highest growth rate of 162 percent was seen in SK affiliates, which went from 394,000 subscribers to 11.036 million. This was followed by 77 percent for KT affiliates, from 657,000 to 1.165 million, and 29 percent for LG U+ affiliates, which saw subscribers rise from 215,000 to 280,000.

Meanwhile, revenue for altteul phone operators for 2013 shot up 107 percent form 119 billion won ($111.9 million) in 2012 to 247.4 billion won last year. Sales of altteul phone devices were 378.3 billion won in 2013.

Among them, sales of KT network borrowers totaled 181.1 billion won, SKT affiliates 46.6 billion won and LG U+ 19.6 billion won.

Sales of KT network borrowers are especially high as companies such as Annex Telecom and Evergreen Mobile, which use KT’s radio spectrum, provided altteul phone services even before the devices were sold at large discount stores.

Furthermore, the number of altteul smartphone subscribers at post offices exceeded 40,000 on Jan. 3, just three months after sales began.

According to the sales breakdown of altteul subscribers at the post office, those in their 40s accounted for 80.7 percent and 48.9 percent of devices sold were feature phones.

“In line with the growing demand for thrifty smartphones, the ministry will actively promote expansion of post offices that sell the quality altteul phones at affordable prices for people and establish an Internet hub site that compiles information on altteul phones,” said a spokesman.



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

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