Korean Internet FTW

TJ posted a bulletin on MySpace featuring this news tidbit:

Far East Gizmos: While in Korea download a 120-minute film in just 12 seconds!

Korea is to acquire the world’s fastest wired and wireless Internet service at 10 times the speed of the current service by 2012. The government and the communications industry plan to invest some W34 trillion over the next five years in the project. The Korea Communications Commission 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. The aim is to give users seamless access to large-capacity, high-quality convergence services such as IPTV.

Although the super-speed internet will be available mainly in large cities, fixed-line subscribers in smaller towns in Korea will also have access to 50 to 100 Mbps Internet service allowing them to watch IPTV programs without a hitch.

TJ asks: “Why the hell is the US so far behin​d?​”

I think the primary reason for this is density:

Korea has 49 million people living in a 38,622 sq mi country. By contrast, California has 37 million people in a 163,696 sq mi state.

Korea’s ten largest cities hold 29 million people (60% of the population). The United States’ ten largest cities hold 25 million people (8% of the population). The #10 city, San Jose, doesn’t even break the 1 million mark.

When you can reach most of the population by wiring up your biggest cities, the task is not only achievable, but you’ll also be able to find the political will to take it on.

The Koreans’ willingness to let the government do and mandate big things (e.g., giant international airport, high speed rail system) gets stuff done:

The Koreans are willing to spend $24.4 billion ($498 per person) to get awesome Internet for everyone (100Mbps – 1 Gbps).

By contrast, we Americans are considering $9 billion ($29 per person) to kinda sorta catch up to what Korea already has for many of its citizens (5Mbps – 100Mbps). On the sidelines, some people criticize the incentive as a giveaway for Verizon.

NY Times: Verizon Could Get $1.6 Billion in Senate Stimulus Plan

Jessica Zufolo, an analyst with Medley Global Advisors, said that last phrase–”or any residential subscriber” — means that a company could receive the tax credit for service to any home, whether or not it is in a rural, low-income, or unserved area.

Moreover, right now Verizon’s FiOS service, which runs fiber optic cables to customers’ homes, is by far the largest provider of Internet service that meets the 100 megabits-per-second hurdle.

“On first blush it appears that this will be very beneficial to Verizon,” Ms. Zufolo said.

At this point I think we need to be grateful that Verizon even has a product/service that can reach the 100Mbps threshold. We need to give them that per subscriber tax incentive of $29. We should also give them that jobs creation incentive they’ve been talking about so that every neighborhood can relish the sight of the Verizon FIOS van mucking around with the tubes. Hell, for good measure we can let them depreciate all their old DSL equipment. Give me FIOS!

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