South Korean cellcos balk at Kakao Talk’s mobile VoIP offering

7 Jun 2012

South Korea’s mobile network operators are expected to call on the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to block a new free mobile voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) service launched by Kakao Talk. According to the Korea Times, the internet telephony option which has been added to Kakao Talk’s mobile app is seen as a serious threat by SK Telecom (SKT), KT Corp and LG Uplus, all of which have seen decline in turnover from mobile voice services, while also failing to generate the expected returns despite high levels of investment in their respective data networks. The KCC is understood, however, to have remained unmoved by initial complaints regarding Kakao Talk’s service, stating that the service is in line with regulations. SKT has been particularly vociferous about the threat the potential competition poses, with an official from the operator cited as saying: ‘The KCC … should step in and block Kakao Talk’s free voice services. Otherwise, there is no choice but to push for an increase in our charges … This (Kakao Talk’s free voice services) is obviously too big a blow for us to absorb. If necessary, we will seek to team up with our rivals.’ It appears doubtful, however, that the KCC will move to halt Kakao’s move into internet telephony, with the report citing a senior official at the regulator as saying: ‘We think there are no serious problems for the current mobile VoIP service provided by Kakao Talk. A shutdown of the new service is highly unlikely.’


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