South Korea is the clear leader when it comes to broadband internet connection, having the world’s fastest internet connectivity. With about 45 million people (or 92.4% of the population) being hooked up to the internet, the nation displays a substantial relationship with its digital space. Aside from the speed, the country also offers the cheapest broadband in the world, marking the capital Seoul as ‘the bandwidth capital of the world’.
Having achieved that, the South Koreans still aren’t resting on their laurels; on the contrary, they are now working on creating speeds of 1Gigabit per second equivalent to download time of 2 minutes for an HD movie. This commercial version of 5G is expected to hit the country shortly and is part of a long-term initiative by the government to keep the internet evolving.
According to the internet monitoring firm Akamai, Japan holds the second place for fastest internet speeds, with South Korea having a lead by 40%. But then the question arises that how does a small country like South Korea manage to beat technologically-evolved giants for undefeated speeds? Apparently, the reasons boil down to government planning, healthy competition, population density, a long-term vision and the unique Korean culture.
The government has many policies and plans in place that encourage its citizens to get hooked up to high-speed broadband connections; they even offer subsidized rates to low-income people in an effort to keep the country moving ahead.
A healthy competition between broadband providers results in faster, cheaper internet connections. South Korea also offers more varied choices when it comes to types of broadband providers. While most people opt for cable or telephone providers when looking for internet connections, South Korea with its high-density population leads the way with the highest number of DSL connections per head. While ADSL offers speeds of up to 3Mbits to 8Mbits, VDSL has also caught on and is accordingly faster.
With a large population of the country living in densely-populated areas with more than 1,200 people per sq mile in mainly vertically built-up metropolitan areas, setting up internet infrastructure becomes cheaper; an ADSL connection into a single apartment building ends up supplying numerous people in one go, thus bringing down installation costs. While older apartment buildings sport ADSL connections, newer buildings are going for VDSL.
The Korean culture is also important in its use of the broadband. With parents being overzealous on the emphasis of education, they see the internet as an important extension of education. The government also encourages housewives to use the internet in their day-to-day life, thus creating an insatiable demand.
Korea has adopted in part the ‘open network’ system where various broadband providers share infrastructure facilities such as cables for a fee, to offer faster, cheaper internet to the end-user, without having to spend huge amounts on infrastructure.