Disruption fallout likely not over for SK Telecom

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Disruption fallout likely not over for SK Telecom

After SK Telecom’s network crash on Thursday, which affected 5.6 million customers, there are signs the company may see lawsuits seeking more compensation than what has been offered.

Under its contracts, SK Telecom must compensate customers at a prorated rate of six times the basic monthly plan, plus additional service charges for disruptions of more than three hours. But on Friday, the company apologized and offered compensation that is 10 times higher.

Although the compensation level differs by monthly plan and data use, industry insiders don’t expect compensation for individual customers to exceed 8,000 won ($7).

But the Korean Designated Drivers Association, which represents people who charge to drive people who have been drinking home, said through its Twitter account over the weekend that it is working to submit collective dispute mediation to the Korea Consumer Agency for proper compensation.

The association claimed that during the nearly six-hour communication disruption, its drivers lost as much as 70,000 won.

In addition, civic groups like People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and the Korea Finance Consumer Federation said they may organize people to seek compensation.

SK Telecom said it is discussing compensation with business customers, mainly delivery and call-taxi firms.

The company also said it will compensate individuals for provable financial damages.

The affiliate of SK Group also said yesterday it will compensate users of thrifty phones, also known as altteul phones in Korea, which are provided by small companies called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that use wireless networks leased from SK Telecom, KT and LG U+. About 1.2 million thrifty phone users registered with eight MVNOs using SK Telecom’s network.

Meanwhile, following the communication disruption of SK Telecom, mobile chatting services like KakaoTalk, Naver’s Line and Internet-based calls are expected to gain more popularity.

Even if phone calls malfunctioned, these services can be used when a smartphone is connected to any Wi-Fi service. Use of KakaoTalk’s mobile Internet phone service “voice talk” during the disruption Thursday was 70 percent more than usual, according to industry data.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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