Saturday, February 28, 2015

Korea's lead in speed

As frequently noted in earlier posts on this blog, the value of speed in broadband communications networks and digital communication devices, has never been questioned in public policy debates here in Korea, as it has in the U.S.  Two items in the news this week suggest that South Korea will maintain its "lead in speed" for some time to come.
First, Samsung Electronics announced that it is mass producing the world's first 128 gigabyte ultra fast embedded memory for next generation smart phones.  (click on the graphic to see a full-sized version) As noted in the Samsung press release,"For random writing of data to storage, the blazingly fast UFS embedded memory operates at 14,000 IOPS and is 28 times as fast as a conventional external memory card, making it capable of supporting seamless Ultra HD video playback and smooth multitasking functions at the same time, enabling a much improved mobile experience."
Second, as reported in The Korea Joongang Daily, Korea's LTE networks are getting faster.  As noted in the article,"Korean mobile carriers on Thursday introduced their upgraded LTE technologies, which ramp up the current 300Mbps networks to 600Mbps at the maximum ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) that kicks off in Barcelona, Spain in March."  Each mobile service provider is using different technology, but with the same result:  increased speed.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Digital divide and disruption in Korea

I just returned yesterday from visits to Stony Brook University in New York and Florida State University in Tallahassee.  Both involved very interesting opportunities to discuss mutual interests with administrators, faculty and students.   During the latter visit I delivered a lecture in the Broad International Lecture series on the topic of "Digital divide and disruption in Korea," and exchanged views with a most interesting audience of faculty, administrators and students.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Korea's ICT-led development at a crossroads?

Lee Jong-Wha, professor of economics and Director of the Asiatic Research Institute at Korea University contributed a thoughtful piece to the Gulf Times that outlines the challenge Korea faces to find new sources of economic growth.  It notes that Korea's GDP growth averaged 3.6% over the past ten years, a significant drop from the 8.1% annual growth rate from 1965-2005.
One problem is that South Korea's economic policies have made it excessively dependent upon exports for growth. Professor Lee notes that "Exports accounted for about 56% of South Korea’s gross national income in 2013, compared to 34% in 2002 and just 15% in 1970. As a result, South Korea’s economy has become highly vulnerable to changes in external demand – a fact that became starkly apparent during the 2008 global economic crisis."  Another is "...the wide imbalance between South Korea’s manufacturing and services sectors. Though services account for 76% of employment, its contribution to overall economic growth is small, owing to low productivity."
Professor Lee goes on to argue that South Korea" ...must also confront the huge, family-controlled chaebols – such as Hyundai, LG, and Samsung – that contributed significantly to rapid industrialisation and technological advancement but also block competition from start-ups and SMEs, stifling dynamism and innovation."