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Communications spending grows fastest

Korean people’s spending on communications services grew at the fastest pace on record last year as a growing number of people used smartphones, which usually rack up a higher monthly bill than ordinary cell phones, government data showed Tuesday.

Monthly household spending on communications services including the use of Internet and mobile phones averaged 136,682 won ($121) last year, up 4.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the data provided by Statistics Korea.

The growth rate is the highest ever since the agency began compiling related data in 2003.

The latest figure comes after the growth in communications spending had been slowing down in recent years thanks to government efforts to induce price cuts by major mobile operators. In 2009, the spending inched down 0.7 percent from a year earlier.

The 2010 growth is attributable to a growing number of people using costly Internet-connected smartphones.

Thanks to the huge success of Apple Inc.’s iPhone here, the number of smartphone users in Korea surged to about 6 million out of the country’s mobile market of 50 million last year, according to market data. Smartphone users accounted for 12 percent of the total, up from a mere 1 percent a year earlier.

The increased use of smartphones drove up the overall spending on mobile phones.

Last year, a household spent a monthly average of 103,370 won on mobile phone services, up 8.5 percent from a year earlier. The growth rate was the highest in six years, the government data showed.

Spending on mobile phones accounted for 75.6 percent of total household expenditure on communications last year, compared with 73.1 percent a year earlier, according to the data. 

(Yonhap News)
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