The Korea Herald


Telecoms’ backlash against Kakao Voice Talk rolls on

By Park Hyung-ki

Published : June 7, 2012 - 20:35

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SKT, KT opposed, LG Uplus open to free mobile calls

Kakao’s controversial free mobile call application is facing growing opposition from Korea’s two telecom giants, SK Telecom and KT, as the venture firm’s new service is expected to hit their bottom lines.

Kakao, which is widely known for its Kakao Talk free mobile messenger app, is gearing up to officially launch the next in its line of free mobile services, Voice Talk.

Following this announcement three days ago, SK Telecom and KT remain adamant that such a service would hurt the country’s information and communication technology market.

KT, which “partially” restricts its network users’ access to mobile Voice over Internet Protocol, disapproves of Kakao’s “free-riding” service, and will maintain the company’s restriction policy on mVoIP, its spokesperson said.

Currently, KT only allows its 3G smartphone consumers to use mVoIP as long as they pay a basic fee of 54,000 won or above with limited data usage. Meanwhile, the fee for LTE phone users to access free mobile call apps starts from 52,000 won, according to KT.

SK Telecom has the same standard for allowing its smartphone users to use mVoIP, a spokesperson said, noting that the fee with limited data capacity begins at 54,000 won for 3G handsets, and 52,000 won for 4G LTE phones.

Both companies said that these restrictions will not change unless Kakao launches Voice Talk, and this will force them to raise their standard fees to keep themselves afloat in the market.

However, LG Uplus, the smallest of Korea’s three telecom companies, said that it will fully open its network allowing Voice Talk for consumers, with officials reasoning that the company has gained enough competitiveness in LTE.

Uplus, which had fully closed off mVoIP on its 3G and LTE networks, has caught SK Telecom and KT off guard, following its announcement that also included exhibiting its new Internet phone with smartphone capability for households, called “070 Player.”

By Park Hyong-ki (