The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) Wednesday reported that Koreans paid the most among wireless users in 15 countries last year that had similar levels of mobile use.
The KCA reported that based on mobile rates charged by the top carrier among selected OECD countries and Hong Kong and Singapore, SK Telecom was the third most expensive.
For international roaming charges, SK Telecom was the second most expensive among the 10 carriers on inbound calls to Korea. The only positive note for Korean consumers was that they were paying the least for text messaging services.
The survey was made using purchasing power parity (PPP), a calculation method that tracks the cost of goods and services across countries. The voice rates charged by Korean carriers were the 10th most expensive among 15 countries with similar wireless use in 2004, but rose to seventh in 2006 and second in 2007 before topping the list last year.

The 15 countries, which included Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, represented markets where the average wireless user spent at least 180 minutes per month talking on their phones. American mobile users spent $0.0500 per minute for voice, which was the least among the 15 countries.
The OECD reported last year that Koreans were spending more of their household income on telecommunications services than any other OECD member state.
Telecommunications charges accounted for 4.81 percent of Korean household expenses, compared to the sub-3 percent average of the 26 OECD member states. The report drew angry reactions from SK Telecom, which controls more than 50 percent of the country's mobile users, and KT, the runner-up carrier. The operators claimed that a simple comparison of rates per minute numbers is meaningless when mobile users in other countries often use more than one handset.

The report relied on several different sources, including the "Global Wireless Matrix" published by Merrill Lynch. It is perhaps inaccurate to say that Koreans pay the least for text messaging, as many carriers in other countries provide limited amounts of text messaging per month for free," he said.

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