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South Korea drafts plan for 'better' converged services

Posted: 20 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:VoIP? WiBro? HSDPA? Internet? IPTV?

South Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication has outlined a new roadmap for the delivery of converged services in the country, reported the Korean Herald. Focused on improving consumer benefits, the roadmap will be included in the National Assembly's session review in April.

Converged services combine two or more telecom applications, such as bundling between portable Internet WiBro, high-speed downlink packet access, VoIP or IPTV services.

The roadmap will include a two-pronged approach, with a strong focus on the delivery of cheaper services and fair competition among players. "The telecom market will be infused with renewed vigor. Consumers will be able to enjoy new converged services at cheaper prices," said Information Minister Rho Jun-hyong in the report.

Planned improvements
Rho said that the Ministry will loosen its grip on the market. "Deregulation will encourage operators to develop new services and expand network investment," he added.

To promote converged services, operators can enjoy a 10 percent-off rule from normal priceswithout the ministry's pre-approval?if they will launch converged services at a cheaper price. This will cover basic consumer subscription fees.

The Ministry will also minimize competition-inhibiting factors in the segment to help operators compete on an equal footing. Rho said that they will allow operators and consumers to know about policy changes in advance.

To encourage an environment of fair competition, Rho said the Ministry will integrate scattered service categories into one. Traditionally, the telecom market has been grouped into business categories including fixed-line, wireless and Internet services. Under the new plan, all services will be merged into one business field.

"This is to lower the entry barrier. Telecom operators can then easily begin converged services," Rho said.

Streamlining services
Reducing service rates may harm operators in the short term, but it will help create additional demand while protecting the current subscriber pool, said Rho.

Meanwhile, the Ministry said it will allow fixed-line telephone users to use their existing numbers in the new IP-based telephony service. This aims to facilitate the expansion of VoIP services as well as open opportunities for small and mid-sized VoIP operators in the segment.

To date, the local government assigned a higher call rate for VoIP, out of concerns that fixed-line service might be hurt with the advent of an 'almost free' VoIP.

Moreover, the Ministry shared plans to go ahead with a sunset clause on handset subsidies, which calls for the subsidy ban to be automatically lifted in March 2008.

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