South Korea’s government pushed through President Moon Jae-in’s campaign promise to cut telecoms expenses by increasing the discount mobile operators must offer customers who sign up for new one-year or two-year contracts.

Starting 15 September, the country’s three mobile operators – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus – will need to give new customers a 25 per cent discount on standard mobile rates, up from the previous 20 per cent, The Korea Times reported.

The government expects some 190 million users to benefit from the new policy, and to reduce annual household telecom expenses by up to KRW1 trillion ($876 million), the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) said.

While the new rate was originally set to take effect on 1 September, the government delayed the plan because operators said they needed more time to update their IT systems and inform retail staff about the policy.

Yang Hwan-jeong, director of telecom policy at MSIT, told The Korea Times nothing had been settled about whether operators would comply with the new policy.

President Moon had promised to eliminate the basic mobile subscription fee of KRW11,000, but dropped the controversial plan in June after the proposal was strongly criticised by operators. However, consumer groups said the legislation didn’t go far enough.

The government opted not to push for the elimination of the basic fee, but sought savings in other areas.