Korea telcos in spotlight in antitrust probe

Melissa Chua
telecomasia.net
South Korea’s three mobile operators are being investigated for price-fixing after a local consumer group lodged complaints with the country’s antitrust body.
 
The nation's Fair Trade Commission has started probing SK Telecom, Korea Telecom and LG U+ in on-site inspections, looking for any evidence of collusion on price, YouHap News Agency reported
 
All three mobile operators charge monthly fees ranging from 35,000 won to 65,000 won ($32.20 to $59.80) for various services such as voice, text messages and data.
 
The civic group which lodged the complaint claimed all three companies would not be charging similar fees for data services if price-fixing was not taking place, at the expense of consumers.
 
Mobile operators contacted by YouHap said they could not comment on the ongoing investigation, while stressing that no illegal activities were ongoing.
 
Korea’s Communications Commission (KCC) said the government had set up a taskforce to examine if price hikes in the telecommunications sector, which have soared to more than 100,000 won per household on average, could be curbed. Potential regulation changes are expected to be announced next month.
 
SK Telecom and LG U+ have meanwhile maintained that actual service charges have remained unchanged in recent years, with the extra charges brought on by consumers’ preference for multimedia downloads.
 
In a separate case, SK Telecom and Korea Telecom were each fined for rigging prices on DRM-based music download services.

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