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VoIP deal reached with LG DACOM

YONGSAN, Republic of Korea -- On June 22, 2006, LG DACOM Corporation advised the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that SamSung Rental and Telecommunications planned to block Voice over Internet Protocol calls made by our Servicemembers if they were using VoIP services that were provided by companies that were not registered in compliance with the Korean Telecommunications Business Act. Blocking VoIP communications at that time would have resulted in the loss of reasonably priced VoIP services, with a corresponding reduction in the quality of life for many USFK personnel who rely on VoIP to connect them with their family and friends while they are serving in Korea. I objected to this and directed the staff to work with LG DACOM to ensure our Servicemembers who were currently using VoIP were not blocked now, or in the future.

Our USFK staff has worked successfully with LG DACOM to resolve this issue. Our first requirement was that local concessionaires provide VoIP services using Korean registered companies at prices comparable to those currently enjoyed by USFK personnel who are using services from popular non-registered U.S.-based VoIP providers. Agreement on this has been achieved. Second, we made it a point to ensure that anyone who is currently using a nonregistered company not be blocked by LG DACOM / SSRT. In other words, we insisted on a "grandfather clause" for current users of non-registered VoIP services. We have also achieved this.

LG DACOM has negotiated with USFK in good faith and we have achieved an agreeable solution which conforms to Korean law, while not disadvantaging our Servicemembers. I appreciate the cooperative and good faith efforts of LG DACOM. After June 1, newly assigned personnel who desire to begin using VoIP services will be required to seek authorized VoIP services from Korean registered companies. Your local AAFES concessionaires will be providing registered VoIP services that are comparable in price and level to service found with popular U.S.-based VoIP providers. The following companies are all registered to offer VoIP services in Korea: Korea Telecom-KT, Hanaro Telecom, LG DACOM, SK Telinks, EPN, Dreamline and Onse Telecom.

It is important that sponsors, the chain of command and command information outlets notify inbound USFK Servicemembers and their families who will arrive after June 1 that if they desire to use VoIP services, they should contract with only Korean authorized and registered VoIP companies. Again, these services will be offered at prices comparable to those currently enjoyed by Servicemembers who are using popular U.S.-based VoIP providers.

Our USFK point of contact for these VoIP service agreement matters is the Assistant Chief of Staff, J6, at DSN 725-6811.