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Plan to lower telecom rates to be announced in May: KCC chief

A plan to lower telecommunication-related rates will be announced in May that can help stem hikes in consumer prices, the head of the country's communications regulator said Wednesday.

Choi See-joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, told reporters that the taskforce made up of the finance ministry and other related agencies are in the process of formulating a master plan.

The taskforce aims to see if there is room for lowering rates that have soared to more than 100,000 won per average household with the wide spread use of smartphones. Smartphone users download more data compared to conventional phones, thus spiking the fees.

"A definitive plan is expected in May," the official said, adding that there is a need to re-define what constitutes telecommunications fees.

"Most consumers use various services liberally, but balk at the amount they have to pay at the end of the month, believing the cost they are charged is for placing calls," he said. Choi said that because of such widely held misconceptions there is a need to look at overall communications costs from a different angle.

This view reflects complaints raised by many telecommunication service providers such as SK Telecom and LG Uplus Corp. These companies have complained that actual telecommunication charges have effectively remained unchanged in recent years, with the rise in charges due to extra services that consumers use like downloading movies, games and music.

The KCC chief, meanwhile, said that Seoul plans to increase the size of the country's advertisement market this year, which can contribute to the competitiveness of the local media industry.