South Korean cellcos to drop sign-up fees

Dylan Bushell-Embling
11 Jun 2013

South Korea's mobile operators have agreed to phase out one-off subscription fees for new mobile users by 2015, as part of a government-led initiative to cut mobile charges for consumers.

KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus will reduce the fees by 40% this year, as the first stage to abolishing the fees, Korea Timesreported.

The fees currently range from 24,000 won to 36,000 won ($21-$32) per user.

South Korean regulator KCC first hinted at convincing operators to get rid of subscription fees in January, as part of president Park Geon-hye's election pledge to reduce telecom fees for consumers.

According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, getting rid of the subscription fees could cut mobile charges by a total of 500 billion won a year.

But the ministry has also repeated a warning against operators continuing to offer “illegal” handset subsidies, hinting that stronger fines could be coming.

In January, KCC issued a temporary ban on adding new mobile subscribers to all three mobile operators due to them allegedly offering handset subsidies that exceeded South Korea's legal limits of 270,000 won ($240) per device.

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