SEOUL, April 19 (Korea Bizwire) — For smartphone users, one of the most onerous burdens is the fees charged for data use. When consumers select their rate plans, the first thing they tend to look into is how much data is available with various plans at different price points.
In this regard, the South Korean government is trying to introduce measures to relieve the financial burden on consumers, as it has been reported that communications fees are one of the three biggest burdens for low- and middle-income households nationwide.
South Korea is now toying with the emerging concept of ‘zero-rating’, which charges data fees to business operators rather than to consumers, with the government and relevant industry officials starting discussions related to the implementation of this new policy.
Zero-rating should be an attractive idea since consumers today tend to max out their data plans to consume a variety of high bandwidth content like Internet video.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced on Sunday that they held the 11th ‘ICT Policy Haewooso’ (Haewooso means a toilet used in a temple but also signifies a place to address some problems) in the Gangnam district of Seoul on April 15th.
Ideas discussed at the Haewooso meeting could turn into real policies, so there is growing interest in the concept of zero-rating as a tool to reduce consumers’ mobile service fee burdens in the future.
Some businesses have already introduced the zero-rating concept on their own volition. Seoul-based online mall 11st does not charge any data fees when customers access and use services on the site. Instead, the company bears a part of the expense in partnership with Internet network operators.
AfreecaTV, an online video service provider, said it would not be affected if zero-rating policies were implemented, on the condition that content on the platform remains competitive and innovative enough to draw more users to the site.
SK Telecom, the nation’s biggest wireless carrier, was cautious about introducing the measure, saying more discussions need to be held to come up with a suitable way for the policy to be implemented.
The concept of zero-rating is seeing increased adoption in western nations. T-Mobile, the American wireless carrier, said that YouTube had recently joined its Binge On program, which allows video content on the mobile carrier’s network to be “zero-rated”, or not counted against data caps, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
By Jerry M. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)