SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's telecom operators will be able to woo subscribers with widened pay plans as they are allowed to freely set their own pay plans following revisions to related laws, although some consumers worry that the move will bring higher mobile services rates.
The National Assembly approved the revision to the country's telecommunications business act and scrapped a rule on mobile tariffs authorization that has been in force since 1991.
Previously, the country's leading mobile carrier, currently SK Telecom Co., had to get the government's approval before releasing new mobile service pay plans. But now, it only needs to report to the state regulator when it plans to introduce new mobile tariff plans.
The regulation garnered different responses from the industry, with mobile carriers claiming that it limited free competition, while consumers insisted that it served as a safeguard against rate hikes from the nation's top mobile carrier.
Consumer advocate groups said the latest revision will make users spend more on their mobile phone contract considering what the nation's three major mobile carriers -- SK Telecom, KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- have been doing with their mobile service plans.
"Still today, the three mobile carriers copy tariff plans from each other, which I think is de facto collusion," said Ahn Jin-geol, who represents People's Livelihood Economy Research Institute. "It sounds like a dream to say that scrapping the authorization rule will boost competition and alleviate mobile tariff cost burdens on households."
However, the government said there will be no unreasonable rate hike from mobile carriers since the revised law includes a clause that allows the state regulator to put the telecommunications service provider's new rate plan on hold if it violates fair business practices and discriminates against users.
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