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Korea to cut interconnection fees among mobile carriers

South Korea's telecommunications regulator said Friday it will cut interconnection fees among mobile carriers for the use of their networks, while abolishing so-called asymmetric rules for the fees that have helped smaller rivals.

In a biennial industrywide fee adjustment, market leader SK Telecom Co. will charge 17.03 won ($0.01) a minute this year to its smaller rivals when their users call SK Telecom subscribers, down from 19.53 won last year, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.

For KT Corp., interconnection fees will fall to 17.14 won this year from 19.92 won last year. LG Uplus Corp., the smallest of the nation's three mobile phone operators, will charge 17.17 won to its bigger rivals this year, down from 19.96 won last year.

Starting next year, interconnection fees for the three companies will be set at 14.56 won.

South Korea has long applied the asymmetric rules for the country's telecom industry to lose a market leader's grip on the market.

The planned abolishment of such rules for interconnection fees comes as LG Uplus gained market share and mobile phone users are increasingly paying for their use of data, rather than voice calls, the ministry said.

In 2011, SK Telecom accounted for 54.7 percent of the market, while KT held 29.7 percent and LG Uplus 15 percent.

Last year, the market shares of SK Telecom and KT fell to 48.2 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively, while LG Uplus saw its market share rise to 21.8 percent, according to the ministry.

Interconnection fees for land-line telephones will be lowered to 11.98 won this year, from 13.44 won last year.

For Internet-based phones, the fees will be raised to 10.78 won this year, from 9.96 won last year, the ministry said. (Yonhap)