Thursday, January 18, 2018

Olympic diplomacy in Korea: A possible turning point?

Although I don't have time at the moment for a more detailed treatment of the subject, the news coming out of talks between North and South Korea is most interesting.   It confirms some of my speculation in earlier posts, after PyeongChang was awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics, that North and South Korea might possibly cooperate in hosting the Games. 
As reported today by the Chosun Ilbo, the two Koreas will hold a celebration at Mt. Kumgang (Diamond Mountain and the stuff of proverbs and lore in Korean culture.... "Even Diamond Mountain can wait until after eating") on the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Another part of this evolving story is the announcement that athletes from North and South Korea will train at the new Masikryong Ski Resort (click on the accompanying graphic for a full size version) in the norther half of Gangweon Province, built shortly after Kim Jong Un assumed power in the North.  In a separate story, the Chosun Ilbo reported on the shortcomings of ski-lift equipment at the Masikryong Resort, built while North Korea was under international sanctions that prevented import of a more modern ski-lift facility.
Can Olympic diplomacy continue and have an impact beyond the 2018 Winter Games themselves?  We shall see, but given the profound political impact of the Seoul Olympics three decades ago, the possibility that this may represent a turning point should not be discounted.

Sharing core 5G infrastructure: the Korea experience

An article in the Korea Joongang Daily today sheds light on some key issues involved in building 5G network infrastructure here in South Korea, which promises to have the world's first nationwide 5G mobile network. The article begins by noting that "Telephone poles, cable ducts and fiber optic networks - they’re the greatest assets for telecom companies vying to commercialize the next generation of wireless networking known as 5G, and carriers will fight to the death to hold onto them. The network, which promises higher speeds of up to 20 times existing LTE, has to be delivered on frequency bands with shorter waves, and to do that, mobile carriers say they have to build base stations closer together. This has caused tension between KT and other telecom companies because the former owns more than 70 percent of the cables on which base stations have to be built, but it has been reluctant to share."  The accompanying graphic (click for a full size version) provides details on the current ownership of core telecommunications infrastructure.
The government's deadline for setting up a nationwide 5G network is March 2019. Meeting that deadline will require agreement among the major telecommunication companies on how to share the fiber networks, underground cable ducts and above ground utility poles that form the core infrastructure for 5G. KT owns a majority of existing infrastructure in Korea by virtue of its former status as a public corporation owned by the government.
According to the article, "For now, the government has proposed three guidelines on how to share the infrastructure. First, each carrier should try to install its own infrastructure in regions with high data traffic. If such installation is not possible, for instance due to objection from landowners, or if a region has low data traffic, companies ought to share infrastructure. And if that’s the case, carriers should pay a reasonable price."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Korea leads the world: In reliance on social media for news

I've posted frequently over the years about the topics of news, the media environment, where and how people access news, and so forth.  If you doubt this, check out these posts from a search for "news."  My interest in these topics dates at least from the mid-1970s when I chose to focus for my doctoral dissertation on a study of U.S. network television coverage of international news.  Little did I imagine at that time that I'd be living in Korea all these years, and continuously from late 1996 to the present.
Korea today possesses the most advanced broadband network infrastructure in the world.   Consequently, it also serves as an important test bed for the world in terms of how citizens, corporations and other organizations react to the changed media environment (or ecosystem).  As shown in the graphic (click for a full size version), a new study by the Pew Center documents these changes.  Fully 80 percent of South Koreans get their news once or more a day from social media.  66 percent check online news more than one time a day.  The graphic speaks for itself, but I recommend reading more from the Pew Center study.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year-end 2017 interview on TBSeFM

Last month I was interviewed on TBS eFM, a 24 hour all English radio station in Seoul.  The interview was part of the #Media in Check feature of the Weekly Review program hosted by Walter Foreman, who was joined by Jennifer Jin.   The discussion ranged over a number of media topics, including fake news and social media.  For those of you who may be interested, this file contains a copy of the interview which was broadcast on the last day of 2017.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Network-centric digital development in Korea: An Update

With the PyeongChang Winter Olympics set to open in just over a month (note the bobsled in the accompanying graphic!) it is highly appropriate that my first post of 2018 deals with Korea's continued network-centric approach to digital development.
The network centric approach is nothing new for South Korea having originated with the start of the digital era in Korea way back in 1980-81.  For those readers interested in more detail,my article entitled "Network Centric Digital Development in Korea: Origins, Growth and Prospects?" was published recently by Telecommunications Policy as part of a special edition for the 40th anniversary of the journal.  It should be downloadable free of charge for another week or two at this link, courtesy of the journal.
The emphasis on building fast, state of the art networks as a core element of Korea's ICT sector policy shows no signs of abating any time soon. As reported by The Korea Bizwire and other local press, the Korean government and industry are planning major investments in 5G network infrastructure in 2018, on the order of $9 billion.  This should come a no surprise given the following realities.

  • KT, the official communications provider for the PyeongChang Olympics has promised, from the start, to provide a "5G Olympics," as discussed in this post.   The broader political, economic and technological significance of the Olympics to Korea was a subject of many posts over recent years.
  • Korea's commitment to building 5G infrastructure coincides with a similar government policy to build the world's first nationwide public safety LTE networks, a topic also discussed in several earlier posts.  Consequently, it was no coincidence that Korea chose to build the first phase of its public safety networks in PyeongChang, to meet both the networking demands of the Olympic games and the requirements of PS-LTE networks while taking advantage of the Olympics as a showcase for the world to see Korea's network technology in action.
  • The ITU is scheduled to make a final decision on global standards for 5G networks in 2020.  Korean companies have been active with international partners and standards organizations.  As noted in The Korea Times last September have "bet big on 5G global standards."