As competition stiffens, carriers boost benefits further

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As competition stiffens, carriers boost benefits further

KT, the first carrier that offered a data-focused plan with free calling and texting, added more benefits Monday in a bid to gain an upper hand amid stiff competition from SK Telecom and LG U+.

Even though KT first introduced the plan, SKT has already attracted more subscribers.

KT said it will lift limitations on free calling in its Data Choice Plan. Before the announcement, those paying less than 59,900 won ($54) per month were not eligible for the free calling service between a smartphone and a landline, though free calling among mobile users was available.

All plan subscribers will now be able to make calls for free.

KT also rolled out an additional feature that lets users choose a specific time slot to use data. If a user adds the feature to their plan, he or she can pick three hours per day to use an additional 2 gigabytes of data. The My Time Plan costs an extra 7,000 won per month, and users can choose any time period between 12 a.m. and 9 p.m.

KT said that the feature will benefit people who watch sports or movies and play games on their smartphones during a specific time each day, such as their commute.

In a statement released on Monday, the company added that the additional data was provided at a speed over seven times faster than normally offered during the day, which will allow users to watch streaming video uninterrupted.

The decision came as KT’s two rival carriers all expanded the benefits of their data-usage plans.

KT’s My Time Plan is similar to SK telecom’s supplementary service called Band Time Free, in which subscribers can use unlimited data at a fixed cost of 5,000 won per month during six hours with heaviest data traffic - 7 to 9 a.m., 12 to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.

LG U+ last week added free additional data for video streaming and free access to television channels to its plans.

It also decided to exempt charges on calls between mobiles and landlines.

The announcement was a step up from the previous plans, which charged subscribers for landline voice calls regardless of the plan’s price. The landline-to-mobile charge was even mocked by SK Telecom’s commerical.

LG U+ also offers more data at a lower price compared with SK Telecom, the No. 1 player. In one example, LG U+ offers 1.3 gigabytes of data for 35,900 won per month, compared with SK Telecom’s 1.2 gigabytes of data for 36,000 won per month.

Along with the increased data amount, LG U+ will provide free data reserved exclusively for video streaming. The third-place carrier said it will offer from 300 megabytes to as much as 3.3 gigabytes of complimentary data depending on the price of the billing plan.


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

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