If you can’t fight ‘em, Joyn ‘em: net neutrality war declared by Korean telcos against KakaoTalk
Posted December 27, 2012 By Sue J. Hur

In early December, the major Korean telcos launched Joyn, a mobile messenger service which would allow subscribers to message, call and send files to other users.  According to Yonhap News Agency, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus collaborated to launch the Internet Protocol-based service in 2013, in their attempt for customer retention and to leverage mobile massaging for customer loyalty. This service will be extended to PC clients in the first quarter of next year.

This move from the South Korean carriers is timely, given that third-party mobile messaging services such as KakaoTalk and TicToc is constantly growing.

TicToc has been growing relatively fast – originally made by MADsmart and acquired by SK Planet (SK Telecom’s subsidiary company), it received positive feedback with more than 2 million active users, but faced an uphill battle to make it a popular app in Korea and in Asia.

Like KakaoTalk, Joyn allows one-to-one and group chatting, live video sharing, and file transfers between devices over any network between friends or colleagues. While RCS is currently available over three service providers, it will soon be compatible all across the world as the GSM Association members share the same standard.

Competition with KakaoTalk, which is available free of charge, cutting text messaging income makes it difficult to justify charging for the service. The three service providers will eventually agree on charging for the service as Joyn offers premium services such as video phone call.


According to The Korea Times, the locally-developed KakaoTalk announced in early December that the users’ average time on the platform hit 43 minutes per day, and that its number of subscribers has exceeded 70 million. South Korean subscribers can download the Joyn.T app also for free (at least for) now.

The core principle of Internet governance and net neutrality is fast becoming one of the most debated issues in South Korea, as more and more people use smart phones and tablet computers, thereby increasingly burdening wireless connections.

Network providers can and deserve the rights to demand an additional return from KakaoTalk, but when the Korean ecosystem is holistically considered, such a decision should be made with much caution.

In the past there were no services like KakaoTalk. However, as the situation changed, Korea needs to adjust accordingly to the present system and situation. If there is a penalty against KakaoTalk or similar startup companies, it will greatly enhance the market entry cost and make it difficult for small IT startups in Korea. Following market logic unreasonably and blindly siding with the Korean conglomerates should be avoided and the government should take this into account when they form their policies.

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