South Korea’s Super-Fast Internet Speeds Explained

March 4, 2015

South Korea rules the roost in Asia Pacific when it comes to internet speeds. Compared even with developed country standards, South Korea still stands out, beating the United States, Germany, United Kingdom.

 

Andrew Braun of IDG Connect puts South Korea’s world beating performance down to the following factors:

 

  • Government planning: In 1995, the South Korean government introduced the Korean Information Infrastructure project that had established broadband connections across the country by 1998 and, by 2014, resulted in 94% of the country having broadband access. 

 

  • Private sector growth and industry competition: government deregulation lowered barriers to entry and private firms aggressively entered the sector, built internet networks, innovated on service delivery and competed for share of the market. These factors resulted in the high standards of internet access and infrastructure present in South Korea today. 

 

  • Urban population density: with an urbanisation rate of 83% in a relatively small country, South Korea has densely populated urban areas, which make for it easy for internet firms to reach users. Instead of building long cross-country networks, internet companies could build relatively smaller networks but still reach a large population. According to Braun, “proximity reduces the cost of building infrastructure…….fiber optic connections are expensive to build and DSL has steep performance loss over distances—but in South Korea physical gaps are barely an issue.”

 

  • Korean culture: Since Koreans put emphasis on achievement and education, the government promoted the internet as a tool for education and self-improvement, which resulted in aggressive take-up of internet connections within the population. 

 

As our previous post showed, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have a long way to go to match South Korea, but it is by no means an easy task to replicate it’s success. Despite investing in infrastructure, China and Vietnam still place extensive controls on both internet content and who can provide internet services, factors which affect internet access and sector competition.

 

Also, countries like the Philippines, India and Indonesia have to face the challenge of connecting their populations across wide geographic areas, factors which put a huge emphasis on infrastructure development. Despite the difficulties, these problems must be tackled if these countries are going to drive both growth in consumer demand and industrial investment, to which standards of internet infrastructure are increasingly crucial.

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