Monday, February 2, 2009

Korea to Build Ultra-Broadband Internet by 2012

I must confess that I was not surprised today to see the local press prominently covering the announcement by the Korea Communications Commission that the government and communications industry would invest some $25 billion over the next five years to build an "information ultra highway."  After all, when then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore gave a famous speech at UCLA in 1994 about the need for the U.S. to build "Information Superhighways," the U.S. failed to do so, but Korea actually built information superhighways.  The Korea Information Infrastructure project, started in 1995, was originally planned for completion in 2010.  However, because of technological advances and industry competition, it was completed a full five years early.  It laid down fiber optic backbone links connecting over 140 cities and towns in South Korea---a massive construction project, but very successful.
Koreans, perhaps more so than any other people in the world, have learned the importance of speed in the information age. Japan would be a close second in this recognition, as I learned at a Seoul conference on Ultra-Broadband last Fall.  This is a lesson that Microsoft should have learned before it released Vista, an operating system that actually ran more slowly than its predecessor, XP.
As reported by the Chosun Ilbo , the Korea Communications Commission on Sunday said it finalized plans for Internet services at an average speed of 1 Gbps through fixed lines and 10 Mbps through wireless. One Gbps allows users to download a 120-minute film in just 12 seconds.
As reported by the Korea Times ,the ultra broadband convergence network (UBcN), which is slated for completion in 2012, will enable users to transmit data at an average speed of 1 gigabyte per second (GBp) through fixed-line connections and maintain the rate of 10 megabytes per second (MBps) on wireless connections, about 10 times faster than existing broadband and third-generation (3G) networks.  The government plans to replace 70 percent of the country's circuit-switched network, used for fixed-line telephony, with an IP network by 2013. About 50 percent of the mobile telephony network will be IP-based by then.
This announcement about Ultra-Broadband is creating some stir and public debate here in Korea, but my guess is that the plan will be realized, at least as successfully as the earlier KII project that was completed ahead of schedule.  The reason?  Simply that customers here, and worldwide, enjoy the services that ultra-fast internet access provides.

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