UPDATED 19/5: South Korea’s largest mobile operator SK Telecom (SKT) announced it will introduce new data-centric plans, with unlimited voice, after rivals KT and LG UPlus made similar offers following pressure from the government to reduce household telecoms expenses.

SKT, with almost a 50 per cent market share, reached an agreement with the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), the Korea Times reported.

SKT today introduced new data packages called “Band Data” plans, which have eight different data tiers ranging from 1.2GB to unlimited and priced at KRW29,900 to KRW100,000/month ($27.50 to $92). Band Data customers have unlimited voice calls.

The operator has been considering how to respond to cuts by its competitors and said it was looking for a way to differentiate its services. A KCC source told the Times that SKT has been debating whether to offer only unlimited calls on its network or on off-net calls as well. SKT’s new plans offer unlimited voice for both mobile-to-mobile and mobile-to-landline calls to any network.

SKT is more dependent on voice revenue than its rivals, as 10 per cent (2.85 million) of its customers use more voice than data services, the Times said.

KT, the country’s second largest operator, kicked off the move earlier in the month by offering customers more flexible mobile data packages, including unlimited free calls and text messages. LG Uplus followed a week later.

Operators need approval from the KCC before introducing new tariff plans.

4G subscribers account for 83 per cent of LG’s customer base, 69 per cent of KT’s and 64 per cent of SKT’s, according to GSMA Intelligence.