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Korean regulator to reveal mobile rates details

A Seoul court has ordered Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to release information on how mobile carriers set rates for 2G and 3G services as the prices are reportedly some of the highest among OECD member states.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

The Seoul Administrative Court has ordered South Korea's telecommunications regulator, Korea Communications Commission (KCC), to release data on how mobile carriers set their rates for 2G and 3G services between 2005 to 2011.

The Korea Times reported on Thursday the court ruled in favor of a civic group, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, which filed a suit against the KCC in July last year when the regulator rejected their petition to publish the data. KCC claimed making such information public could infringe on the local mobile carriers' business interests, it noted.

"The KCC must reveal the requested data to serve public interest. We can't determine that doing so is against the interest of the firm. Rather, keeping the information secret doesn't comply with existing laws," said Park Jeong-hwa, a judge at the Seoul Administrative Court said in the report.

The verdict is expected to place more pressure on firms to lower mobile fees amid speculations that they charged excessive rates, it added.

Park, however, turned down a petition from the civic group to reveal certain sensitive business information, including the firms' assets, depreciation expenses and operational costs. The long-term evolution (LTE) business for smartphones, currently the key focus area for mobile carriers, was also excluded from the ruling.

The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy welcomed the verdict, and said it will step up a public campaign to achieve lower mobile rates.

"Thursday’s ruling means keeping how mobile rates are set secret is against the public's interest. Accordingly, we will demand related information from the firms and the KCC and try to prove that they have charged excessively," said Cho Hyung-soo, a lawyer for the group.

"We will consider whether to file a petition to demand information on LTE service as well."

The pressure on the country's telcos and the KCC was triggered by a series of reports that showed 2G and 3G pricing in South Korea were among the highest phone rates of the member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Korea Times noted. 

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