Korea’s two largest mobile phone carriers, SK Telecom and KT have announced that next month they will begin placing bandwidth caps on monthly plans that were previously unlimited.
According to an unnamed official from SK Telecom quoted in the Electronic Times, a widely circulated daily technology newspaper in Korea, the top 1% of downloaders are using 40% of network bandwidth and the top 10% use 90% of network bandwidth.
Many industry watchers in Korea have speculated about when this move would happen. Carriers in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere have already placed similar caps on each subscriber’s bandwidth to keep their 3G and 4G networks fast for everyone else.
While neither KT nor SKT have said what the caps will be, I would guess that the high-range plans will have 5 GB monthly limits similar to those in other countries. After users hit the initial cap, their connections will likely be slowed down significantly but not cut off.
As a Korean smartphone user, one of the reasons I decided on a higher-priced monthly plan was the the higher bandwidth limit. KT, my carrier, currently offers a 100 MB data plan, a 500 MB data plan and four unlimited plans. (Detailed here.) It remains to be seen if KT will use varying caps to differentiate these plans, which currently differ only by the included number of voice minutes and text messages.
Korea’s third-largest carrier, LG U+, has not announced any changes to its current data plans and requires users to log in to see their rate plans. If any Seoul Space readers use LG U+, let us know how much you pay for smartphone service.