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South Korean telecoms unveil new tool to fight Kakao Talk

SEOUL--The country's three mobile carriers will team up and introduce a new communications service named “joyn” on Wednesday to compete with top mobile messenger Kakao Talk.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus all announced Tuesday that they will release the Rich Communication Suite, which allows people to use a number of communication services — such as Rich Call, Rich Messaging and Rich Phonebook — in an integrated manner.

Users who have downloaded the joyn service will be able to send messages up to 5,000 characters long to contacts registered in their phonebook.

Also available are group chats, in which users can send videos to one another during voice calls, according to the telecoms' officials. Sharing of image files, location and contact information between users will be possible, they said.

The chats will be sent as text messages to feature phone users who do not own a smartphone, the officials said.

Going a step further, the service will provide direct links to a user's friends' social networking service pages like Facebook, Twitter and Cyworld as well as their email addresses, they added.

Kakao Talk, which is a global mobile messenger service operated by Kakao, has so far secured more than 70 million users worldwide that includes 35 million local users.

The service has compelled many to turn away from traditional text messaging.

“As a service provided and operated by a mobile network operator, (joyn) boasts high reliability, stability and scalability,” said an SKT official.

The new communications service is currently available on some recently launched smartphones, but it will be downloaded on all smartphones rolled out next year, according to the companies' officials.

SKT said it will charge 20 won for every chat or text message using the joyn service on the third-generation or fourth-generation communications networks, whereas KT and LG Uplus have yet to finalize the details.

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