KOREA: LG Telecom launches open internet for mobiles

LG Telecom launches aggressive low-pricing strategy and full-browsing Internet service to attract mobile phone customers

The Korea Times
Thursday, April 3, 2008

By Cho Jin-seo

LG Telecom made a bold challenge to the claustrophobic local mobile Internet environment by introducing an open, full-browsing Internet service at an affordable price.

The smallest of three telecom operators in Korea launched the Oz service on Thursday, with an attractive fixed-rate plan that allows unlimited data download for 6,000 won ($6) per month.

It is by far the least expensive data service option for mobile phone users in Korea. The firm hopes that this aggressive Internet pricing policy will distinguish itself in tight market competition with its two bigger rivals -- SK Telecom and KTF.

"Before Oz, phone users had to visit firms' portal sites to gain access to the mobile Internet, and they had to pay for information which was free on ordinary Web sites for PCs," Jung Il-jae, CEO of LG Telecom, said in a press conference. "With Oz, we will develop an open Internet world for mobile phones where everyone can enjoy the Internet."

Mobile Internet services in South Korea are usually provided in a closed portal from each telecom firm. They are often slow, cumbersome and almost impossible to customize, frustrating not only users but Internet companies and foreign phone makers.

Such portals are notorious for charging users for services which are free when accessed on PCs. Data subscription fees were also much higher than broadband Internet fees for PCs.

CEO Jung said that it is high time to open up the mobile Internet environment so users can freely surf the Web as if they are using PCs.

"Like the Internet had evolved from closed Telnet-terminal services to today's World Wide Web, the era of mobile Internet begins now," he said.

The company first introduced two premium handsets from LG Electronics and Japan's Casio for the launch of the OZ service. But Jung said it will sell more than 10 models this year, including cheaper ones.

Since last year, SK Telecom and KTF have been investing to establish the so-called third-generation (3G) platform, known as WCDMA, which allows face-to-face video call services. But LG Telecom has gone a separate way. Instead of joining the 3G spending spree, it has improved its existing 2G network with much less investment and focused on implementing the full-screen PC Internet interface onto the small phone screen.

LG Telecom has 7.9 million subscribers in Korea, compared with 13.9 million for KTF and 22.4 million for SK Telecom.