Tuesday, November 29, 2011

KT and Cisco to Enter the "Smart Space" Market

Earlier this month, it was widely reported in the media that KT and Cisco formed a joint venture called KC Smart Service, a collaboration initially intended to manage services for smart buildings and smart cities, beginning in January of 2012.   As reported by InfoWorld The new venture is being funded with starting capital of US$30 million from KT and Cisco. KT will be in charge of the overall management of the operations of the new company which will be headquartered in Korea.The venture will deploy technologies from both KT and Cisco, including Cisco's Unified Service Delivery Platform, Cisco said. The companies have executed agreements that establish the framework for their collaboration, enabling KCSS to have the ability to incorporate the technologies and tools of KT and Cisco. KT and Cisco are also looking at collaborating in business-to-business services and cloud computing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

IPTV versus Smart TV in South Korea

Digital media convergence continues at a rapid pace in South Korea, arguably the fastest in the world, given the  advanced state and multiplicity of networks here.   As partial evidence for this, you may find The Korea Joongang Daily's article on IPTV interesting.   Back in 2008, internet protocol television, or IPTV, was first introduced in Korea by KT.   Usage rapidly increased, as shown in the accompanying graphic (click to see a full size version).  That, of course, was before the introduction by Samsung and other electronics manufacturers of so-called "smart TVs."  Note that anyone in Korea with fiber to the home can easily switch their television subscription to IPTV.   The main advantage of IPTV over traditional television was access to a great deal of stored and on-demand content.  The new element introduced by smart TV is that the television itself contains a small computer, much like your smart-phone or tablet device, allowing web-surfing and the use of applications.
In some ways, the outcome of all this convergence seems clear.  People will want everything in their hand, on a tablet, or on the big screen.   Most folks won't want to carry around the extra weight of multiple devices or take on the extra cost of multiple services if they can all be combined in one smart device.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Korea Still the Top ICT Economy in the World

This is a follow up to the post I published in September about the ITU's new Measuring the Information Society report confirming South Korea's top ranking internationally.   I'm publishing it partly because of its content, but also because I worked for the VOA in Washington as a summer intern back in 1968, and later, following Peace Corps service in Korea, worked for another year and a half as a writer editor in VOA's Worldwide English Division.   The video below is from VOA's Special English Division.  A nice report.

Robotics and Korean Creativity

I have frequently heard criticisms of the Korean approach to education that suggest it relies too much on memorization and testing and does not encourage creativity.  That is partly why the Washington Post article about Virginia Tech professor Dennis Hong caught my eye this morning.  As I suspected, he is one of the more than six million Koreans living overseas, away from their home country.  The article describes how Professor Hong grew up and eventually became a star in humanoid robotics in the U.S.
Some years ago, I had an interesting encounter with Sangbae Kim who, as a Stanford graduate student, was centrally involved in the creation of Stickybot, a gecko-like robot.   Dr. Kim was kind enough to stop by my office at the Fulbright building and we had a fascinating discussion of his background and how he became interested in this field.   He is now a professor at MIT and in  charge of their new Biomimetic Robotics Lab. The Youtube video of Stickybot embedded in my blog post is still worth viewing one more time.
Draw your own conclusions about Korean creativity.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Internet Access in the World's Subway Systems

The New Cities Foundation, a Swiss non profit foundation, has published a comprehensive survey of wireless internet access in global subway systems. The survey, conducted in October 2011, covered 121 global cities of more than 750,000 people with an underground subway or metro system. Access to the mobile Internet is an essential component of the smart in 'smart city': this is how people connect to one another and to the services they need. NCF chose to focus on commuting because this is a significant part of most people's day in big cities but one where there is a clear divide between on and offline. The study showed the highest availability of mobile data services was in South Korea and China, where users can connect to the Internet in 100 % of major subway systems. Overall, Asian commuters can go online in 84 % of major subways, compared to 56 % in the EU and 41% in the US and Canada. The lowest rate is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, at 25%.

Friday, November 4, 2011

North Korea on the Cusp of Digital Transformation?

Alexandre Mansourov of the Nautilus Institute has published a report on an important topic and with a very appropriate title, "North Korea on the Cusp of Digital Transformation?"  As readers of this blog will know, I've been very interested in the role of telecommunications in national reunification for some time now.   I published a post in June of this year with hyperlinks to some of my other posts.  The Mansourov report shows careful analysis of important Korean-language documentation on North Korea's ICT policies and development and is a valuable addition to this important topic.
As I have argued on numerous occasions, North Korea faces a clear cut dilemma.  Either modernize its digital networks, both fixed and wireless, in order to develop economically, or seek to control the internet, with the inevitable side effect that economic growth will be limited.  Furthermore, the mobile broadband revolution currently underway worldwide simply makes it increasingly difficult for the North to control information reaching its citizens.