Nation’s top carriers debut new billing plans

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Nation’s top carriers debut new billing plans

Korea’s top three telecom companies announced new billing systems that charge based solely on the amount of data users want to use and offer free calls and text messages.

SK Telecom, the nation’s top carrier, was the last among the big three to embrace the new pricing scheme after KT, the second-largest player, made the first move two weeks ago. The smallest telecom LG U+ rolled out its service last week.

SKT announced Wednesday that more than 150,000 people signed up for its Band Data Plans on the first day of its launch on Tuesday, the highest daily record.

The telecommunications provider said those in their 20s and 30s accounted for the largest share, with 50 percent of subscribers belonging to that age group. Twenty-six percent of users were in their 40s, while those in their 50s made up 17 percent.

As a latecomer, SK Telecom sought to undercut rivals by lifting limits on free calls. The Band Data Plans offer unlimited calls both between cell phones and between cell phones and landlines.

KT, on the other hand, confines unlimited calls between to cell phones and landlines to its top-tier plans. LG U+ only provides free calls among cell users.

In addition, 3G users can also register for SKT’s plans, in contrast with KT and LG U+, which only offer new plans to users with LTE contracts.

While SKT’s latest plan has attracted a lot of attention, KT was quick to claim that its service is superior.

KT held an unplanned press briefing on Wednesday, a day after SKT announced its service, to highlight what it considers the benefits of KT’s plan compared to its competitors.

Park Hyun-jin, director at KT’s marketing division, said the company’s plan allows users to carry unused data into next month or use next month’s data early.

“When we analyzed the usage pattern of our customers,” the director said, “10 percent of them who frequently make calls to landline phones would benefit from SK Telecom’s plan, and a fraction of users who often watch TV on their smartphone might benefit more from LG’s plan. But users with such patterns only account for 0.01 percent of our total.

“The rest would benefit more from [KT’s plan] because we give users flexibility with their data.”

The director said that some 40 percent of its users have fluctuations in their data usage. By saving the otherwise wasted data, the service can translate into the savings of up to 13,800 won per month.

KT has attracted 250,000 subscribers to its data-oriented plan.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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