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SEOUL — Just in time for Valentine’s Day, troops stationed in South Korea can give their sweethearts back home the gift they’ve been waiting for — a cheaper phone bill.

U.S. phone numbers will once again become available on posts Saturday, according to an Army and Air Force Exchange Service release.

Customers can register for the new numbers at any LG Dacom storefront. The numbers, which will be issued in addition to the Korean numbers customers already have, will cost customers an additional $15 a month. If they have LG Dacom’s unlimited calling plan, the service will cost an additional $10 a month. AAFES spokesman Jeff Craven said the fee is to cover LG Dacom’s costs for the use of the U.S. numbers.

Craven said callers in the States who dial the numbers will pay either local or reduced rates for the calls.

"Even within the same area code, distance matters," Craven said.

Calls to the United States from South Korea won’t be any cheaper, Craven said, and the cost and procedure for dialing numbers outside Korea will remain unchanged.

Craven said the new service is a response to customers who’d asked for an easier way for friends and family in the States to contact them.

Craven said customers will be able to choose from a list of area codes available at any LG Dacom AAFES concession. He said the area codes available will change daily, as there is a limited amount of phone numbers available for each area code.

Prior to 2007, many servicemembers living on post used Internet-based voice over Internet protocol services such as Vonage and Lingo.

But the South Korean government said in 2006 that most foreign companies didn’t comply with the nation’s telecommunications laws and that their use was technically illegal because they weren’t registered with the South Korean Telecommunications Act.

In June that year, Samsung Rental Corp Ltd. announced it would begin blocking U.S.-based VoIP providers on military installations.

Believing the move would be a hardship for those with existing VoIP contracts, officials from U.S. Forces Korea entered negotiations with the contractor, also known as SSRT, to delay the move, then continued negotiations with LG Dacom when the company took over on-post Internet services.

In 2007 LG Dacom began providing VoIP services, for a slightly higher cost than most of the U.S.-based companies charged, but was unable to provide U.S. numbers.

Craven said LG Dacom’s new U.S. number service is landline, not Internet based, and new technologies have allowed LG DACOM to provide the new service.

"We have been working on this for a year as it needed to be approved by the Korean MIC (Ministry of Communications)," Craven said in an e-mail Thursday. "It also took time to work a good technical solution and to purchase equipment to make it all work."


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