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Science minister pushes for transparency on handset costs

Science minister pushes for transparency on handset costs

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Published : 2014-01-01 19:50
Updated : 2014-01-01 19:50

Choi Mun-kee
Science Minister Choi Mun-kee expects the National Assembly to soon okay a revision to the telecommunication law to force handset makers and telecom companies to regulate subsidies that are currently given recklessly as bait for drawing more customers.

“I hope to see it get passed next month, since nobody seems to oppose the bill at the National Assembly,” Choi said during a press event last week. “The delay of revision was one of the things I regretted the most last year.”

Handset makers are still opposed, but the carriers, along with the sales agencies, are now on the government’s side.

The revision was proposed last year by the Science Ministry and the Korea Communications Commission to help cut out illegal practices involving handset makers such as Samsung and LG and network carriers ― SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus ― along with their sales agencies ― to offer subsidies at whim in order to secure more customers.

Currently, the cost of smartphones varies based on where, when and how customers purchase them as the subsidies are not fully disclosed.

The revision had initially been expected to get passed last year, but was delayed as the nation’s largest handset maker Samsung Electronics protested and refused to submit data on such aspects as smartphone sales and subsidies, saying it was confidential corporate information.

Regarding the government’s creative economy initiative, the minister said he expects to “see more outcome” this year, adding that there is actually more to the Science Ministry than the creative economy.

“The frequency auction also was wrapped up quite nicely, though it was more complicated than the previous year. The promotion of the space industry received good review by the related sectors. The Mobile virtual network operator industry has also seen fast growth this year,” Choi said.

Among 2.5 million budget phone subscribers, 30,000 users bought their phones from post offices which started selling the phones last September.

“Out of all the budget phones sold at post offices, around 30,000 won per handset goes to the Ministry, and the earnings have reached 300 million won,” said Park Jong-seong, a vice president of Korea Post, which belongs to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, at the press event.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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