SEOUL, Apr. 13 (Korea Bizwire) — The total number of subscribers to MVNO discount phone services in Korea is expected to surpass 5 million in this month. According to industry representatives on April 12, the number of subscribers reached 4.85 million in February, giving MVNO services an 8 percent share among the total mobile service subscribers. The number of MVNO subscribers, which was 1.27 million in 2012 when MVNOs were first introduced in Korea, increased to 2.48 million in 2013 and grew at an annual rate of 90 percent.
As discount phone services are becoming more familiar to Korean customers, MVNOs are increasingly providing more than one network access to their customers for a more aggressive expansion of their booming business. E-Mart first added LG U-Plus network access to its original SK Telecom access, and currently 6 out of 35 MVNOs are using more than one network access.
However, the combined deficit of MVNOs in Korea is estimated to be 250 billion won (US$ 228 million). Furthermore, MVNOs are due to start paying spectrum usage fees, from which they have been exempted so far, this September. They are also set to start negotiations with the three major mobile carriers this month to adjust wholesale prices for network access. Current network access costs represent about half of total expenses for MVNOs.
By Kevin Lee (email@example.com)