Carriers launch new Kakao challenger

Visitors to KT’s headquarters in Gwanghawmun try out Joyn services, Monday. Local mobile carriers launch the service today. / Courtesy of KT

Domestic mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will jointly launch their much-anticipated “Joyn” communication platform service today.

The service is a joint project of mobile operators associated with the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) to share a common platform available across the world.

It is what the GSMA has dubbed a rich communication suite (RCS) service that allows consumers to use various telecommunication services simultaneously that previously were available only separately.

The GSMA sets the standard on RCS, which has been developed by the cooperation of 220 mobile operators and handset manufacturers globally.

Subscribers to the three telecoms can all download the service at respective app stores and there are no additional requirements to use it.

During calls, users of Joyn can share live videos, send images, receive each other’s location and contact information. They can send up to 100 megabyte-sized files much higher than the current limit of 20 megabytes. When sharing contact information, users can get a direct link to the others social network services and emails, and send message via those applications.

It also allows text messages, irrelevant of file size, to be used like instant chatting among Joyn users. The service also supports group chats, and each can send up to 5,000 words. Those roaming abroad can use the service without additional fees.

It has been compared to domestic mobile messenger Kakao Talk which mobile carriers have claimed was eating away their profits and using their data network without proper compensation.

The difference between Joyn and Kakao Talk is that the former can combine various services with voice calls. Those using the latter cannot use services such as chat during voice calls, though it still has the advantage of being free. “While similar services require that certain applications be turned off to send messages or call, our service doesn’t have that problem,” said LG Uplus in a statement.

Currently, only third-generation voice calls can be applied for use in Joyn, but the carriers plan to make voice over long-term evolution (LTE) available next year.

Individual price for services “integrated” to Joyn will remain separate without any significant difference from previous offers. Each text message will be 20 won and data usage will depend on each consumer’s installment plan.

Mobile carriers also stressed that Joyn boasts “high reliability, stability and scalability as a service provided and operated by a mobile network operator,” hinting at its difference with Kakao Talk. All three firms are offering chatting and texting using Joyn for free until May 31 next year to “actively promote use.” Sending files will be charged.

The new service is to continue to be upgraded to a new version. As early as next year, local consumers may able to use Joyn to communicate with those abroad using the same service. It has been commercially launched in Spain and Germany, while other GSMA associated carriers in different countries are all planning for one soon.

The association expects worldwide Joyn users to reach 150 million by 2013 and 740 million by 2016. <The Korea Times/Cho Mu-hyun>

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