Saturday, June 19, 2004

One-Phone Service to be launched next week by Korea Telecom
By Kim Tae-gyu
Staff Reporter
06-16-2004 18:20

KoreaTimes : One-Phone Service to Be Launched Next Week

KT, Korea's dominant fixed-line operator, will kick off a one-phone service from next week, which will seamlessly switch between landline and wireless voice and data.

Under the new bundling service of KT, commercially known as "MU'', customers will be able to savor landline calls at home and mobile services outdoors, through a single phone.

"Our new offering will be a convenience to customers as a single phone can work over both fixed and mobile networks. Also, data throughput will be up to 10 times faster compared to the previous mobile connection in the house,'' said Chang Byung-soo, assistant vice president of KT.

People will be able to send or receive calls through KT's traditional fixed line at home and via the firm's wireless arm KTF's mobile network while on the move.

Samsung Electronics, the world's third-largest cell phone maker, has already developed terminals for the looming service and will crank them out from next week.

The price of the handset for MU will be around 600,000 won according to Chang and cheaper models will be released by the end of this year.

Chang said the one-phone service has been in trials for the past few months with about 870 users and as a result he expected there will be no notable teething problems.

The specific service schedule was enabled as the government gave a green light to the long-awaited service, dumping its hitherto-stance of preventing KT from offering such a bundling service.

In fear of KT's acceleration of dominance in the domestic telecom sector, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has been hesitant in giving the nod to the convergence service.

The Ministry, however, has changed its policy to help the nation take the global initiative in the emerging market and allowed the services on July 15.

"At the same time we permitted the one-phone service, we also mapped out several measures to bar KT from expanding its dominance in the telecom market via the bundling service,'' an MIC official said.

Under the anti-trust steps, KT basically cannot integrate landline bills with mobile ones and price discounts will be banned.

Also, the company is required to reveal service specifications and terminal information to those firms which try to enter the one-phone service market, to ensure fair competition.

KT, the former state monopoly, is the nation's indisputable telecom front-runner, accounting for more than 95 percent of the landline call market and upside of 50 percent of the broadband market.

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