Call for more clarity over smartphone services

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Call for more clarity over smartphone services

A group of lawmakers are calling for more transparency in smartphone services.

Rep. Chyung Ho-joon of New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) on Thursday announced that he and 11 other alliance lawmakers submitted a bill on Wednesday that seeks to revise the existing Electronic and Telecommunication Business Act to make it mandatory for all telecom carriers to provide detailed information of where customers can access each service.

“Local smartphone holders have complained a lot because they were encouraged to subscribe with super-fast services without being notified where exactly these partially-available services actually work, whether at their home, work or their school,” Chyung said in a statement. “The law will help consumers make more reasonable choices when choosing a telecom service that suits their lifestyle better.”

The bill would also make it obligatory that the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning regularly investigate the types of telecom services available in each area and their quality. It also says the ministry should ensure carriers follow the rules and report the results of its findings to the National Assembly and the public.

So far, there is no legal obligation for carriers to reveal the information. Telecom customers are usually encouraged to subscribe to services with the latest technology without being advised if it is or is not available.

SK Telecom announced last December that it succeeded in developing the world’s first three-band LTE-A service, which was said to be four times faster than regular LTE service and 21 times faster than 3G service. KT and LG U+ also promoted the service earlier this year.

The service is available in some parts of the country but consumers have not been informed exactly what areas are covered.

SK Telecom said it started servicing major areas with heavy transient populations in 85 cities nationwide, including Seoul, the greater Seoul area and six metropolitan cities. The carrier emphasized the service is partially available on the KTX bullet train and major tourist spots like Jeju Island, by doubling the numbers of signal base stations to 26,000 nationwide.

The super-fast LTE service was advertised with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. However, the carriers have so far failed to clearly notify which smartphone devices support this service, while increasing numbers of telecom customers are choosing to use their own devices to lessen their monthly bill.


BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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