Impact of fire at KT’s switching center is detailed

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Impact of fire at KT’s switching center is detailed

Card payments in western Seoul dropped on Nov. 24 and 25 after a fire broke out at KT’s Ahyeon telecommunications switching facility in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, causing a blackout of payment systems in the nearby area.

According to Democratic Party lawmaker Noh Woong-rae on Sunday, card payments of major card companies in Seodaemun and Mapo Districts, regions affected by KT’s network shutdown, fell by 3 billion won ($2.67 million) or 5.3 percent compared to the previous weekend.

A report compiled by the lawmaker’s office said KT’s own card subsidiary BC Card saw payments fall by 7.3 percent, KB Kookmin Card drop by 7.5 percent and Shinhan Card decline by 3.6 percent during the fourth weekend of November.

The same period last year in the area saw increased card payment of 7.7 percent compared to the previous weekend.

After the fire at its Ahyeon facility, KT struggled over the weekend to restore its network, which numerous restaurants, cafes and convenience stores use for in-store payments.

The country’s second largest telecommunications operator has since faced complaints despite restoring much of its network. The carrier established a small business support center and decided to waive a month’s phone bill for subscribers in the region.

Analysts have estimated that the waiver will cost the company at least 23.2 billion won. The amount will likely grow with pressure on the carrier to compensate losses incurred by small businesses.

Noh, who serves as the chairman for the National Assembly’s Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee said he would pursue compensation for small business owners affected by the shutdown.

“KT will have to compensate as early as possible, not only for the losses incurred by small business owners, but psychological distress,” said Noh. “[We] will monitor until the end whether KT will properly carry out its compensation to small business owners as it had promised.”


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]

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