Source Korean Times
Discount chain Home Plus said Wednesday that it launched its own telecommunications service, Plus Mobile, starting today.
The firm will use mobile operator KT’s network as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Home plus signed an agreement with KT last year to use the latter’s network in a deal that will make it the first discount chain store to launch such a service.
The move comes in the wake of the government’s plan to expand MVNOs as a means of addressing growing consumer complaints about rising phone bills.
Because MVNOs lease operator’s networks without incurring operating costs, they are able to provide services more cheaply.
Subscription and purchase of handsets are available at 134 of its stores nationwide, which will offer LG Electronics’ L-series handsets and other products priced between 200,000 to 300,000 won.
Consumers can also subscribe with their current handsets by just changing their universal subscriber identity modules (USIM).
Home plus said its wide distribution network will also help consumers save costs.
It unveiled five plans, the cheapest of which requires only a 6,000 won monthly payment and charges 1 won per second for voice calls. Plans by carriers usually require a monthly payment of over 30,000 won and charges are 1.8 won per second.
For now it only offers third-generation (3G) connection with plans to add long-term evolution (LTE) at a later date.
The company said it benchmarked U.K.-based MVNO Tesco Mobile, which has acquired 3 million subscribers since its launch in 2003.
“We want to establish ourselves as a business that helps households pay less for telecommunications services through Plus Mobile,” said a Home plus spokesman. “Our customers will be able to gain seamless connection through KT’s excellent network at affordable prices.”
KT has the nation’s second-largest wireless network and largest fixed-line. Subscribers to Plus Mobile will also gain access to the operator’s 200,000 Wi-Fi access points installed nationwide.
“As a responsible business, we’re happy to provide our network to Home plus and will continue our efforts to make telecommunications accessible to everyone,” said a KT spokesman.
Home plus (Korean: 홈플러스) is a British discount store retail chain wholly owned by Tesco with 113 branches throughout South Korea. Home plus operates both hypermarkets and its express format as well as a home delivery shopping service. Home plus hypermarket stores typically offer general home products, clothing, electronics, and sporting goods. They also usually feature a multi-story car park, large supermarkets, and small, special-purpose stores such as fast food restaurants, travel agencies, appliance-rental firms, pharmacies, and bookstores. There are also “culture centres” in some of the stores. Home plus is the second largest retailer in South Korea, just behind Shinsegae Group.
In 2011, the retailer opened the world’s first virtual supermarket at Seolleung Station on Seoul Subway Line 2, where smartphone users can photograph the bar code the of life-size pictures, on the walls and platform screen doors, of 500 items of food, toiletries, electronics etc, for delivery within the same day.
Currently there are 11 announced MVNO Companies: Montista Telecom; Annex Telecom; Evergreen Mobile; Eyesvision; S Roaming; Onse Telecom; Insprit; KTIS; KICC; KCT; KDC; and SK Telink.
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