20060519

A fine slap on the wrist

1.78 billion seems quite a heavy fine but we're talking Korean Wons and not even 2 million bucks. Korea's Fair Trade Commission found out a collusion meeting occurred between the 3 MNOs on June 24, 2004 in order to put a stop to flat rate systems, an attractive concept for customers but a repulsive one for shareholders. For a much milder crime, French operators had to pay hundreds of millions (Euros this time).
Competition again : SK Telecom said their new HSDPA service* would mark a shift in the market "from membership-based competition to service competition". Don't expect this elaborate wording to mean "price war" either. I guess it will go beyond the cultural shift where average customers won't have to take a ticket to be served at the customer service boutiques (VIPs should still enjoy the operators' lavish lounges).
What does this "+ life"** mean then ? A better customer experience for videocalls, downloading and roaming. Videocalls will become faster and cheaper : a W Standard Rate is comin'up soon at a mobile theater near you at 1.3 won per 0.5k packet. Automatic roaming just started with 02 in Frankfurt, Hannover and Leipzig - a 100% coverage for Korea's first round in FIFA World Cup 2006. Voice calls to Korea range from KRW2,444 to KRW2,826 per minute and videocalls stand at KRW 5,829 per mn. Still not cheap.


* see last post "Commercial HSDPA live in Korea" (200060517)
** SKT labels the service "3G+" or more simply "3+"... which makes Hutch a Three Minus ?



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