Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seoul's cyber subways

Yesterday I had occasion to make the one-hour trip from Daejon to Seoul by KTX, and traveled from Seoul Station to Yeoksam Station in Gangnam for my meeting and lunch appointment.  Although this is anecdotal evidence, I wanted to share my observations, especially with those of you who have not visited Korea.  In the first subway car, on Line 2 (the green line) most of the seats were full and all but two of three of the passengers were using their smartphones, most with earphones attached.  I observed the same thing on my return trip.   What accounts for this near-universal use of mobile networks on the Seoul Subway?   There are several factors including,

  • Some people are watching free digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) television on their handsets, a common feature in South Korea since 2005.
  • Some consumers are connecting to the internet via an LTE or LTE-A connection, since penetration of these mobile technologies in Korea leads the world.
  • The major mobile service providers in South Korea (KT, SKT and LGU+) each offer their own version of data plans that allow subscribers free access to WiFi.
Of course, I enjoyed free Wi-Fi access to the internet on the KTX train while traveling to and from Seoul, and observed most people making use of the connection with their phones, tablets and notebook computers.

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