The South Korea government has unveiled a plan to phase out by 2015 the one-off administration fee currently charged to mobile phone users in the country.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said on Thursday it would urge telcos in the country to cut the registration fee by 40 percent this year, and reduce them further in following years until it is completely lifted in late-2015, The Korea Times reported. This move is part of a set of policy initiatives the ministry proposed in a brief the country's president Park Geun-hye.
The ministry expects the abolition of such fees which range from 24,000 won (US$21.43) to 39,600 won (US$35.36) per user, to cut mobile charges by around 500 billion won (US$447 million) annually.
Currently, the largest mobile carrier by subscribers in the South Korea, SK Telecom, charges 39,600 won (US$35.36) for the administration fee, while KT and LG Uplus charges 24,000 won (US$21.43) and 30,000 won (US$26.79), respectively, the report noted.
According to the ministry, 24 countries have abolished such fees. "Phone users here have long complained about paying the [administration] fee, which no longer exist in most advanced countries," a ministry spokesperson said.
However, the Korea Times report noted abolition of the fee will hurt the bottom lines of mobile carriers, which are already under growing pressure to lower rates and been accused of charging excessive rates by civic groups.