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Mobile network operators fail to keep up with policy

The nation’s telecom industry is once again failing to keep in step with the regulatory authority’s attempts to provide consumers with convenience.

In April, the Korea Communications Commission announced that measures would be implemented to allow mobile phones on corporate contracts to be used in confirming the identity of the user.

Although the KCC said that the new service would be made available from May, local carriers are far from ready for the move.

In Korea, online financial and commercial transactions usually require a six-digit number sent to a consumer’s mobile phone to be typed in to verify the identity of the person carrying out the transaction.

However, despite more than 1.54 million people in the country being on company-paid pay plans, such identification services have been available only to those on private plans.

As such, corporate-phone users have had to use the less popular i-Pin ― a system established to allow Internet users to avoid typing in their resident registration numbers when identifying themselves. More cumbersome yet, many have opted to get a second mobile phone ― one for work, and one for private use.

The KCC’s recent decision was welcomed by more than 1.5 million people, who are forced to use company phones for professional purposes.

“It is really annoying. I don’t want to have a separate phone, but also I don’t like this i-Pin system,” a 35-year-old sales rep named Lee said, declining to be identified further.

“So, I have had to ask my wife to do all the banking and to make online purchases, since I have to use the company phone for work.”

A close follower of telecom-related news, due to his job, Lee was happy at the recent news.

However, Lee and hundreds of thousands of other corporate phone users will have to wait, in some cases several months, before their inconvenience is resolved.

Of the three mobile carriers, KT Corp. is the only one to have rolled out the service, having introduced it in early May.

The situation at other carriers is worse.

“We’re currently reviewing our plans for the system’s launch and operation. For now, the release date is August but it’s not a fixed date,” a staff at SK Telecom said.

Those using the country’s smallest carrier LG Uplus will have to wait even longer, with the company saying simply that related services are likely in the third quarter.

However, the responsibility for the delays may not be solely with the carriers.

“Checking on the security system and setting up the program requires a lot of time and effort,” a sales manager at LG UPlus said.

“It’s a smarter choice to take time to develop a system than to release it in a hurry to meet the government’s revised bill,” he added.

By Suk Gee-hyun (monicasuk@heraldcorp.com)
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