International voice calls have often been a major expense for travelers. With the number of Koreans leaving the country nearing 30 million this year, the company said it launched the service to attract travelers that often choose foreign USIM or portable Wi-Fi routers over data roaming services due to the costs.
The mobile carrier reformed its international voice call service so that calls are offered over Wi-Fi or data networks like 3G and 4G LTE. It’s similar to the way free voice calls are offered on chat apps like KakaoTalk.
If a traveler is subscribed to SK Telecom’s data roaming plan, voice calls to Korea from 168 countries will be free. Calls within the foreign countries will also be free, though local calls are based on overseas voice communications networks and not data networks. The mobile carrier said it will cover any costs incurred in local calls in foreign countries.
SK Telecom users that do not subscribe to a data roaming plan, however, will have to pay separately for the data used during a call. If there is a free Wi-Fi connection, all SK Telecom users will be able to place calls for free.
According to the carrier, users can call any number in Korea. This service differs from voice services on KakaoTalk in that it can only be used to contact friends already added on the app.
To benefit from the free voice calls, users have to download an app, dubbed “T Phone” in Korean, from the Android or iPhone app stores. An English title for the app has not been released yet as the service is only tentatively named T Phone. A new comprehensive title for the free international calling service will be released in January, the mobile carrier said.
The price of data roaming services offered by SK Telecom differs by overseas destination and the amount of data offered. For a program that offers 3 gigabytes of data available for use for a maximum 30 days in 19 countries including the United States and Australia, it costs 33,000 won ($29.14).