S. Korea kicks off discussion panel on cutting phone bills

2017.11.10 15:09:23 | 2017.11.10 15:09:49

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The ongoing issue of finding ways to ease mobile phone bills for households has been put up for public discussion in South Korea as a private-public sector panel was officially launched Friday, led by the Ministry of Science Technology and Information Communications.

Offering cheaper communication fees was one of President Moon Jae-in’s promises during his campaign trail. But it has been heavily contested by the industry as it stokes controversy about state meddling in service rates of private companies.

The policy consultative body held a kick-off meeting Friday morning with a goal of producing concrete policy recommendations until next February.

The 20-strong committee involves key stakeholders including central government officials and mobile handset makers, and civic activists. Corporate members are three mobile carriers (SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus) and two handset manufacturers (Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics).

The panel will discuss a cheaper phone rate based on average uses of mobile services, separation of handset sales from mobile carriers and other sensitive issues affecting the future performance of the mobile industry. The results of the panel’s discussion will be reported to the National Assembly’s committee and serve as inputs to policy decisions.

A state policy advisory group mentioned the need to introduce a social discussion platform in June before implementing a measure to lower the burden of communication fees on households and the ministry outlined the panel’s structure and operation in September.

By Seo Dong-cheol and Minu Kim

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