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American View On Korean Broadband Leadership 527

prostoalex writes "South Korea remains the world's undisputed broadband leader (in terms of penetration) with 25 broadband lines for every 100 people as of year-end 2004. But how did it come to that? Joel Strauch moved there to teach English and in his letter to PC World he portrays the everyday life in broadband heaven as well as names the reasons for Korean broadband dominance: 'An ambitious, nearly $11 billion program, it appears to be working. Studies have shown that over a quarter of Koreans have broadband and that anyone who wants it can sign up--with some ISPs charging as little as $19 a month for DSL. I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.'"
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American View On Korean Broadband Leadership

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:19PM (#11739546)
    We all know the importance of quickly downloaded porn and illegal games :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States
    I live in a pretty high-cost area of the country and my 3 Mbit/sec service is less than $50/month from Comcast, maybe he left the US too long ago.
    • by bbk ( 33798 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:26PM (#11739606) Homepage
      I'm willing to bet he has a 1.5Mbit/sec bidirectional DSL line, rather than the "3Mbit/sec down, 512Kbit/sec up" line that Comcast is most likely selling you.

      For that kind of bidirectional speed, you're looking at $100/month or so here...

      - BBK
      • Actually, I pay something like $50-60 for a 1.5/1mbps DSL line with a static IP in the USA. Non-restrctive AUP, even.
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:22PM (#11740029)
        However it also generally comes with an SLA that gaurentees uptime, quality of service, and so on. That's the big difference for like Speakeasy ADSL/SDSL service. ADSL is a home-user type thing. No speed gaurentees, no uptime gaurentees, no upstream gaurentees. The SDSL is more professional, with gaurentees on all those things. It gets priority when being fixed, and you are compensated for downtime past a certian amount.

        Now I'm not saying that's the right way to do it necessiarly, but that's often the reason for higher cost on symetric lines. They are sold as pro solutions that ahve higher levels of service. Well, that costs more money.

        Also something I've noticed is that US broadband is generally very good about having sufficient upstream for your conneciton. If you have a 3mbps connection, your ISP has sufficient connections to support that and so on up. I've found that broadband from other countries that is often not the case with.

        I was transfering files with someone from Europe, Sweden I believe but I can't remember, who was getting angry at me because he claimed I'd overlisted my connection. I'd listed it as a T3, which was quite accurate. At the time I worked for network operations on campus and had a very direct link to the core, which has 2x OC-3cs to the world. The network utilization was extremely low at the time, under 10% per line. Thus I was easily capable of doing T3 level transfer speeds, and I verified this on another site. Both the links were to large providers (Time Warner Telecom and AT&T) and high priority, thus the problem was not on my end.

        Well, some investigation and testing reveled that he could get his full 10mbps to people on the same DSL network, but not to most of the rest of the world. There was either insufficient bandwidth or a rate limit somewhere higher up the chain. So the 10mbps DSL really wasn't. It would be like syaing you have a 100mbps line because that's the connection your comptuer has to your switch. Well yes, it'll get 100mbps to anything on that LAN, but not to the rest of the world.

        I've encountered this a number of times with foriegn providers. It's certianly not universal, but seems far more common than in the US. You get extremely high bandwidth to the provider, and thus anyone on their network, but past that and maybe their peers it drops off sharply.

        I'm not saying maybe SK doesn't have much better broadband, just saying that there are some reasons why things may cost more over here.
    • I pay about $30 US for 5 Mbit/sec service up here in Toronto. Although I did have to purchase the $100 (about $80 US) modem for the service. Of course in reality, I get about 4.5Mbits max.
    • by MyDixieWrecked ( 548719 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:38PM (#11739710) Homepage Journal
      When I was living in Manhattan, I had Roadrunner which was 3Mbit/512Kbit (from what I could tell) and had no ports blocked, so I was running a web server off my main linux box. I believe we were paying around 50$ a month.

      Right before xmas they upgraded or something because I was getting over 600K/sec on my downloads, which makes me think they upgraded to around 6Mbit (I did some math on my max speed, and it was almost exactly 6Mbit), but the upload speed didn't change.

      I had to move back to NJ on new years day, so that was the end of my high-speed enjoyment. DSL service in this area is horrendous. Verizon offers home users only 768Kbit DSL for some 40$/month and where I happen to live, I'm too far from the central office, so I get constant disconnects and outages that last hours and sometimes days.

      I opted to get speakeasy since I had become addicted to running a web server and they had a slashdot promotion where I get 8 IPs, so I'm in hosting heaven right now, but I pay 80$/month for 1.5Mbit/768Kbit. The 6Mbit package isn't available here.

      i could have also gotten comcast but I had their service from 1998-2000 and became completely dissatisfied with their service toward the end (started out GREAT and Fast as hell, I'd get 800Kbyte/sec downloads and 800Kbyte/sec uploads, but they decided to cap everyone to 1% of the upload bandwidth and 10% of the download bandwidth). I was paying 60$/month for that, I believe.

      Luckily, I moved to another area where I got Optimum Online, which, aside from the internet in college, was the fastest broadband I ever had. I was paying 40$/month, and used to regularly get 1MByte/sec downloads, and in the beginning, 400Kbyte/sec uploads, which, later, were capped to about 80Kbyte/sec when they blocked inbound traffic on port 80 because I codeRed, or one of those stupid worms.
    • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:04PM (#11739909)
      I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.

      Of course, the per capita income in Korea is about 1/2 that of the US, so spending $30 to a Korean is like spending $60 is to an American.
    • I have $45-a-month Verizon FIOS fiber-to-the-premises at 15 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up here in Texas. Verizon is adding cities as fast as it can.
  • Envy (Score:2, Funny)

    by rootX ( 115147 ) *
    I am so jealous. Cheap and ubiquitous.

    • population density (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I suppose you could broadband wire all of new york city + the nearby cities for $11 billion also.

  • Port scanning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:21PM (#11739561) Homepage Journal
    All I can see from here is the port scanning that continuously comes from their networks. And the lack of response when I try to report it to their ISPs.
    • I bet you forgot to translate your report to Korean.
    • Re:Port scanning (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      All I can see from here is the port scanning that continuously comes from their networks.

      No different to any other country, IME.

      And the lack of response when I try to report it to their ISPs.

      You speak Korean? Or did you get somebody to translate it for you? Please tell me you didn't just send them an email in English and expect them to understand it.

      • Re:Port scanning (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pe1chl ( 90186 )
        What I always wonder about is why I get all this Korean spam (100 messages a day) and no Korean understands that I will not be able to read that!

        Let them trim down their spamlist and only leave .kr addresses on it.
      • Re:Port scanning (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bunratty ( 545641 )
        However, South Koreans all study English in school. They need to take a proficiency test in English to get into college. When my brother went to Korea, I asked him to buy me a t-shirt with Korean letters on it -- all he could find was one t-shirt with the Korean alphabet on it, because all the others had English. I can read lots of Korean, too, because the alphabet is phonetic and many of the words are phonetically spelled English words. Believe me, South Koreans can read English perfectly well.
    • Re:Port scanning (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tough Love ( 215404 )
      All I can see from here is the port scanning that continuously comes from their networks. And the lack of response when I try to report it to their ISPs.

      Those are zombied Windows machines. Korea produces porportionately more zombie spam than other countries because its bandwidth is relatively higher.

      The zombied machines are all Windows machines. Windows is heavily used in Korea because for a long time it had better Korean language support than Linux. Now that Linux has caught up and with the Korean go
  • Size (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:21PM (#11739564)
    So. Korea being the size of about New Jersey
    might be the reason broadband has deeper penetraton than in the US.

    • Re:Size (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yotsuya ( 4378 )
      How typically american. The articles says that in Korea, broadband has better penetration than.. not america.. but rather, *the rest of the world*!
      Which does happen to include America, but is not limited to it. Nor is America even a good meter to compare to, broadband-wise.
      • The article may not mention america-- but the thread title does. So the parent is not 'typically american' but rather one might be inclined to say that you are 'typically ...' whatever you want to call it. Especially since on substance you agree with the post that comparing America to Korea is not worthwhile.
    • Re:Size (Score:2, Insightful)

      There is a saying, when there is a will, there is a way.

      Look at Sweden. Huge, cold, northren-european country, with 10/10mbit - 100/100mbit for home users for the price i'm paying for 1.5mbit/160kbit.

      Also, if the country is smaller, their incomes are smaller too.
      • Re:Size (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Otter ( 3800 )
        Also, if the country is smaller, their incomes are smaller too.

        Huh? Why do you think that?

        • Re:Size (Score:3, Interesting)

          To clarify: i ment the government's income not the average income of a person. Population numbers don't always follow landmass numbers, but roughly it's true.
    • Re:Size (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They've also beaten Hong Kong, which came in second despite having a much higher population density.
    • Length (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:36PM (#11739702) Homepage Journal
      If you include length of lines, then sparser areas would fair better. A larger country might have to bury more fiber to provide the broadband connections.

      It seems to me that you would want to do something like comparing metro areas to metro areas, rural areas to rural areas. Even that doesn't work, as some countries have densely populated rural areas. The population distribution will be the single largest factor in determine broadband connections per person than any other factor.
    • Re:Size (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Arroc ( 208497 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:38PM (#11739719)
      Same old excuse: infrastructure X sucks in the USA because the country is too big.
      Why isn't New Jersey doing so well since it is the size of Korea?
    • Re:Size (Score:5, Informative)

      by evn ( 686927 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:40PM (#11739730)

      Canada has the population of California, a bigger land mass, and better broadband penetration than the US (source []). Even considering that most Canadians live within a few hundred kilometers of the US/Canada border you're still lagging behind.

      It's been a while since I carefully looked at my cable bill but IIRC the total bill is $100 CDN
      1. $60 for tv cable service
      2. $30 for "high speed" internet
      3. $10 to bump the internet up to 5mbit down/1.5mbit up

      $33 USD for reasonably fast internet doesn't looks pretty good to me.

      • $10 to bump the internet up to 5mbit down/1.5mbit up

        *shakes fist at us media/telecom conglomerates*
        *wishes he was canadian*
      • Urban areas are generally much more dense in Canada than in the US due to land planning restrictions and so on. So, it's easier/cheaper to wire than the average US sprawl. (Although, I'm not arguing that the US broadband situation doesn't suck.)
    • Re:Size (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:02PM (#11739883)
      So. Korea being the size of about New Jersey
      might be the reason broadband has deeper penetraton than in the US

      New Jersey a population of about 8.6 million, of those about 693,000 [] were subscribed to broadband in 2003 or about 8%. This state is in the top 5 list of subscribers in America.

      South Korea is about 38,023 sq. miles in size
      New Jersey is about 8,721 sq. miles.

      Virginia on the other hand is larger than South Korea, but close at 39,598 sq. miles. It would be less insulting to say that South Korea was the about the same size as on of the sothern states.

      N.J. is smaller in terms of size and population than South Korea, yet has less in terms of percent of broadband subscribers.
  • by Nine Tenths of The W ( 829559 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:22PM (#11739573)
    You can play Starcraft perfectly well on a 56k line.
  • I think I'll stick with my $40 per month for 4MB down / 512KB up (Cox).
  • Leadership? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hedley ( 8715 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:24PM (#11739583) Homepage Journal
    You can get 100Mbps for $50(US) in Japan and ditto in Sweden for $40.

    That includes VoIP service.

    Anything less is stoneage.

    • Re:Leadership? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:28PM (#11739639) Homepage Journal
      What's the point of 100Mbps though? A lot of servers are lucky to be sitting on their own 100MBps pipe. With the exception of P2P stuff, I'd imagine there's a point where additional MBps on a home line just aren't that significant anymore.
      • Re:Leadership? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedley ( 8715 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:39PM (#11739720) Homepage Journal
        I think the buildout is important. Ultimately in the limit I believe that you will get your entertainment content via the net (minus the pr0n we already receive). The idea is that you would visit webpages for the TV shows you like and support, you get billed directly and DL the show you like for a small fee. You watch it when you want commercial free. Movies also could be delivered this way.
        Anyway, thats where I believe the BW will ultimately go. If I am wrong, then you are right 1..4mbs would be all you would need (barring p2p). (that last comment sounds a lot like 640k is all you need :) ).

      • Re:Leadership? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by drxray ( 839725 )
        It's pretty cool. I downloaded all five CDs of Solaris 10 x86 in under ten minutes. And running a 32-player Unreal Tournament server needs at least a 10 Mbps connection, preferably several times more if you're using custom maps (as players will download the maps off you). It's also nice to have the slow part of smaller downloads being you typing in where you want the file saved, rather than the actual downloading.
        I can't wait for legal film downloads.
        That said, if you're just using the net rather than servi
      • What's the point of 100Mbps though? A lot of servers are lucky to be sitting on their own 100MBps pipe.

        Well, it's useful when downloading from more than one server.

        It's also useful if the server had, say, a 30 MBps connection.

        Anyway, for the statistics, personally I'm on an (unlimited) 10 Mbps up/down line for $49/month. I find that to usually be enough without overpaying. :-)
      • Re:Leadership? (Score:2, Informative)

        by torpor ( 458 )
        what part of "VOIP" did you not understand []?
    • I'm not sure if that'll beat the 10Mbps up and down optical connection I'll be getting for free for a year. Can't wait until they come around to hook me up.

      It's good to live in De Kenniswijk. *devious grin*
  • Studies have shown that over a quarter of Koreans have broadband and that anyone who wants it can sign up--with some ISPs charging as little as $19 a month for DSL. I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.

    So? Qwest DSL is $29.95/mo for 256k DSL. I pay $49.95/month for 2048/256k. If I went with cable (Charter) it would be 39.95/month for 3000/384 (with no servers permitted).

    I really am not impressed with
  • ... to be able to get broadband easily at a decent price. And lots of gamers which I am one.

    Are there any U.S. cities that have a lot of high technology with broadband services everywhere and cheap?
    • Why do you need broadband service everywhere in your city? Don't you just need it wherever you live?

      Also, any cable connection is easily as fast as this guy's service in S. Korea. You can get cable in most of the US for under $30/month (RoadRunner has a "lite" service they provide if you just call and ask for it... $25/m).

      As for cities that have a lot of "high technology", you might want to look to the urban areas of Washington, California, and Texas. Any big city has more than enough technology to int
      • Yeah. In my small city, there is a lack of broadband services (e.g., DSL is unavailable because I am 20K ft. from the CO). There are satellite ones, but those are too slow and expensive. Forget T1 lines. Overpriced. Even dial-up sucks. I only get 3 KB/sec and never connect higher than 28800 on modems (even 56k modems).

        I would love to move, the but the prices in the cities are crazy. A pay check barely pays for it. :(
        • Your best bet is to wait for cable modem access in your area.

          One other thing that you could do is gauge the interest in broadband in your area, and try setting up something yourself. Many small communities have done this, but it takes some hefty startup costs. You could arrange for a T1 to a central location in your community, and then provide a wireless access point that people can connect through (obviously, everyone would need bigger antennae).

          If you live in an apartment building, even better... talk
  • Earthlink's got a deal now in the U.S. where you can get DSL for 19.95 for the first half-year. I don't know exactly how fast it is for that price, but I think it's 1.5 mbps. Anyone have more info?

    Also, I believe SBC is matching that price as well.
    • Well, they have a $19.95/mo SBC/Yahoo DSL package - if you already subscribe to the other SBC home telephone service packages (long distance, etc)

      They kind of hide that fact under disclaimers..
  • Geography Is Key (Score:2, Insightful)

    Korea is insanely net-centric, almost to the point of absurdity (as anyone who's ever been to Seoul can attest), but it also has the benefits of being considerably smaller than the US, which makes it easier to run broadband. In the US we're seeing the commoditization of dialup where the prices for dialup service have dropped over time, and eventually once the market penetration gets to a certain point broadband prices will likely drop as well (especially if Wi-Max takes off.

    However, when you're dealing wi

    • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:34PM (#11739674) Homepage
      If population density makes it so easy to provide fast & cheap broadband, why doesn't it exist in New York or San Francisco?
      • As many other posters have pointed out, a cable connection that's not oversold (most isn't) is the same speed and around the same cost as what this guy has in S. Korea. So, in cities like New York and Chicago (and smaller cities like Milwaukee and Houston) you DO have the same thing.

        It's the rural areas of the US that limit broadband accessibility and put it behind smaller countries on accessibility reports. As time goes on, hopefully wireless access or broadband over power lines will become a possibilit
    • Whats this "if Wi-Max takes off"?
      Its only going to get about 70mb per access point and each access point is going to use up 1/3 of the allocated spectrum in the area. So either its going to provide old school dsl speeds to lots of people or fiber speeds to one. To make it useful, there are going to need to be more access points than cell towers and I don't think that is going to happen since fiber costs are now under $.2 per meter to run.
    • The trouble isn't city-to-city fiber. There's oodles of that stuff sitting dark. The problem is the last mile. I remember hearing a story about a guy who had four OC-12s running through his backyard, but had to use 28.8 dialup for internet access.
  • South Korea land area: 98,190 km^2

    USA land area: 9,161,923 km^2

    • While this is certainly a major factor, it does raise a simple question. Why doesn't any random metropolis in the States have similar broadband numbers? While having a dense population makes it easier, it's not the reason why. Government policy is a major contributor.
    • Canada land area: 9,093,507 []

      Cost of cable broadband: $40CDN []
      Cost of DSL broadband: $29CDN []

      Moral of the story: There's more to it than just geography.

  • Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saintp ( 595331 ) <(ude.nayelsewrben) (ta) (erreipts)> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:28PM (#11739629) Homepage
    When you pay taxes for something, your out-of-pocket expenditure for it is less. We pay taxes to support massive petroleum subsidies, because cheap gas is important to us. Koreans pay taxes to support massive Internet subsidies. It simply represents a difference in whose pockets we want to line: already-wealthy oil barons, or already-wealthy Internet barons?


    • Re:Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:35PM (#11739685) Homepage
      And that makes perfect sence given the geography differences. We need cheap physical transport more than South Korea does. If it suddenly became twice as expensive to transport a load of cargo 1000 miles as it is today, our economy would choke.
    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nsda's_deviant ( 602648 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:36PM (#11740138)
      I understand your cynicism but your wrong.

      In 1997 the Korean economy crashed and was bailed out by the IMF. Everything was in disarray and the goverment didn't have enough money to bail out the national banks. Bankrupt banks left all firms clamoring for money for investment and one of the designs for the 'new' Korean economy was building high-tech telecom. Meaning: give subsidies to rapidlly accelerate the growth of Korean telecoms so they would grow faster, expand into new markets and theoreticlly offer growth in new businesses.

      In 1997, internet usage in Korea was nowhere. There wern't many PC rooms, people wern't playing real computer games, there wern't extensive 2g networks and it wasn't the Korea you read about today.

      What's remarkable about the Korean story is that the goverment made positive steps to nuture explosive broadbrand growth. It's unheard of in the US because there hasn't been a real US equivalent since the space race. No one 8 years ago thought Korea would be able to bounce back from the massive economic depression but betting on broadband has had huge paybacks. Who would have thought Samsung could make 3g cellphones with 4mp+ cameras because broadband was so prevelent? Who would've guessed people stop watching TV because TV episodes can be streamed 24/7 for roughly 50 cents a pop? Can you believe that a nation of 50 million is roughly 25% of the world's WarCraft 3 players?

      The story your missing is that the Korean subsidies wern't free money to 'rich' telecoms. It was subsidies that was strategicly used by the goverment to promote internet growth. The idea being that subsidies would roll over into positive effects for citizens; that has happened, no one imagined it would be so successful. Now, could you imagine what would happen if the US had a president that bet 100 billion on the internet?
      • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:43PM (#11740551)
        >The story your missing is that the Korean subsidies wern't free money to 'rich' telecoms.

        This is very common with American thinkers. Here in the US, so much corporate welfare is given out through various lobbying efforts, not generally through well thought out planning. I dont at all believe most of my peers understand how powerful a stratgic "pump primer" subsidy can be to fire up business to provide some really stellar results, like what we are seeing in Korea.

        Then again, the American outlook is justified as the cronyism goes very deep here and the assumption that the fair market implementation in the US will take care of itself. Of course this ignores monopoly issues, IP law abuse, etc. In the end, the US does well enough so that people aren't complaning too loudly about broadband pricing or lack of availibility, but seeing a touch of socialism and central planning produce some really excellent results just brings out the worst in the WSJ/right-wing crowd.

        Sadly, this thread reads of just all the things "wrong" with the Korean implementation instead of giving them the kudos they've earned for such a huge and risky project.

        I think this is the larger issue and the wedge between the US and all other post-industrialized nations, especially Europe and Canada. These countries are actually doing very well with complex programs like universal healthcare and better consumer protections; two things the US elites and populace seem to want nothing to do with and in an act of cognitive dissonance, they last out and just point out whats wrong with these socialized or "primed" programs.

        Yes, there are downsides to subsidization, but there are also real upsides and we're seeing it in Koreas amazing broadband revolution and in the social programs of western democracies, except the US. Of course, the US ideology gives a lot more leeway to enterprenaurs and makes for a more nimble market, but that comes at a cost, mainly quality of life issues and companies which get too big and a government unwilling or unable to take on harmful monopolies like slashdot's favorite computer company, Microsoft.
      • Now, could you imagine what would happen if the US had a president that bet 100 billion on the internet?

        Yeah, he would would have been lobbied out of office by the MPAA.

  • by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:28PM (#11739631) Homepage Journal
    Three reasons:

    1. SBC (primarily it's PacBell portion)
    2. Verizon
    3. BellSouth
    We would've long ago had a much higher penetration level, except they want to control the lines and the access.

  • by Renraku ( 518261 )
    You guys should feel lucky. I've got 1500/256. It costs me $50 a month.

    Someone asked why you'd want to pay for 1500/256. You know, I can't afford to have a T3 come into my house. Tht's why I pay for my pathetic broadband that Bellsouth pretty much has a monopoly on around here. /near Knoxville, TN
  • envy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AssFace ( 118098 )
    I pay $80 a month for 600kbp up/down DSL and then another $120 to the phone company for the line. This is currently the fastest/cheapest we have seen and it is recent.

    The phone company is slightly scamming in that they have listed on their page that the 256kbps line that I had been paying for through them could handle 1.5mbps downloads but the 256kbps was for the uploads.
    But when I complained to them that I was getting nowhere near 600kbps downloads, they told me that I needed to upgrade my line with them
  • I live in Saskatoon, SK. For the geographically disinclined, this is north of Montana/North Dakota.

    Around here, a 1.5Mb DSL line from the local telco goes for $35 CAD/mo, and a 5Mbit connection is $45/mo CAD.

    For a bit more, I can get digital TV over DSL, with an interactive decoder box that hooks into the broadband line.

    American telcos are seriously overcharging....
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:39PM (#11739726)
    nearly $11 billion program ... I pay $30 myself ... twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.'"

    Let's see here; he's crowing about how it "costs less" at $30 per month yet ignores the taxes collected to create the $11B system. Sorry people, it ain't cheaper; the costs are just hidden in the Koreans' taxes.
    • by arodland ( 127775 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:52PM (#11739809)
      Indeed. $11 billion over the past two years? Distributed among the (rough guess) 13 million households? That's over $400/household/year they've been paying to get there.
      • by pe1chl ( 90186 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:03PM (#11739896)
        But then, it comes down to "what do we spend our tax money on? will we improve broadband connectivity for our citizens or will we interfere with other countries' business and pretend it is for a good cause"?
    • You are correct. But lets say they are going to collect that money no matter what... Then what would you rather have them spend it on? Broadband is nice and seems to fit in well with their goal of electronic government []

      While U.S. aid to South Korea was phased out quite a while ago-- our committment to their defense must help them to be able to do this kind of thing as well. If they were on their own against North Korea I would imagine they would be compelled to divert even more to defense. So in part
  • For around 6,000JPY a month on ADSL.
  • I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.'"

    Since when was $50 twice what $30 is ...

  • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:45PM (#11739761) Journal
    I've never understood how endless pictures of folks flashing the peace sign could be so popular - but our Korean students manage to max out our bandwidth on sites just like Cyworld.

  • South Korea is about the size of Indiana. If the US were to spend $11 billion for wiring Indiana, they'd have a pretty good internet infrastructure, too.

    Also, with a population of 48.5 million people, Korea is pretty densely populated. Compare that to Indiana, which at 6.2 million people, is fairly lightly populated. It wouldn't be cost effective to wire the entire state for broadband with the population density it currently has.

    Chip H.
  • by Rotten168 ( 104565 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:53PM (#11739820) Homepage
    If there was an 11 billion dollar government program to increase broadband penetration, then it doesn't cost each person in SK 30 bucks a month. It costs them 30 bucks a month plus that portion of their taxes which is going to subsidize broadband.

    In the US we could pay nothing in broadband and have it be completely subsidized by the government. But we'd still be paying for it through taxes.

    What worse about subsidization, even if you don't use broadband you have to pay for it, depending on how their taxation scheme works.

    I am all for increasing US's broadband connections but it's not all bad here, there is far more internet penetration and PC's among the populace here than in SK.
  • Pointless! This is NEWS FOR NERDS, STUFF THAT MATTERS. Not "some nutters opinion on the economy, moaning he's being screwed because his country has more money then sense".
  • by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac@fas[ ] ['tma' in gap]> on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:10PM (#11739942)
    While there are a number of posts saying, "I've got x for $30 a month" there are still many areas in the U.S. where the broadband provider has a local monopoly. Case in point, my town, which only has Time Warner Cable (no DSL) charges $50/month for broadband alone. When I was getting expanded cable t.v. and broadband, my monthly bill crept up to over $120/month. My parents, who live 50 miles north of me get broadband and expanded cable t.v for $45/month. Why? They have competition. I work with people who get Time Warner broadband and they get it cheaper than I did simply by living in another location.

    It seems we love monopolies here in America since it's taboo to meddle with business too much.
  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:12PM (#11739958) Journal
    "Studies have shown that over a quarter of Koreans have broadband and that anyone who wants it can sign up--with some ISPs charging as little as $19 a month for DSL. I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection--twice the speed of my $50-a-month service back home in the United States.'"

    Ok is he listing real USD, or is he doing some kind of comparison of what it would be if it compared to the average American salary?

    If he's gonna use USD he needs to specify what the average korean makes in USD. According to the average korean makes between 20,000,000 and 50,000,000 WON [], which converts to [] about $20,000 to $50,000 USD (although [] has a more accurate conversion, but that's pretty close.

    Here's a teacher's salary [], about $2,200 a month. That site also claims taxes are only 5 to 10% which is much lower than what I'm currently paying in the US, I'm paying about 15% right now.

    Considering that's probably what the average american salary is I'd have to say $19/mo DSL isn't a bad deal, but Yahoo/SBC offers "Up to 1.5 Mbps" DSL for $26.95/mo with a one year commitment [] so I don't see why his "I pay $30 myself, for a 1.5-megabits-per-second (mbps) connection" is so great, he's paying more for DSL than it is here!

    Is this a great example of "move along folks, nothing to see here"?

  • In Paris here I've been very pleasantly surprised by a company called Free ( that offers a free DSL modem/TV/telephone box (USB and ethernet, phone jack, and SCART) and then 20mbit unlimited download (with 3mbit up) for 29.99euros. TV via ADSL too and then free nlimited calling withinn France and 2cents a minute to just about anywhere else in the world. Pretty sweet frikken deal.
  • by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:03PM (#11740304)
    The technology for deploying broadband is widely and cheaply available given the proper infrastructure. In addition, such technologies such as DSL rely on proximity to service providers to deliver their services. It's easy to see how this has happened and how comparitively it is more difficult for the US to match South Korea's deployment of broadband.

    Start with land mass and population density. This is really the crux of the problem, and what truly stands in the way of wide spread deployment of broadband in the US. South Korea is roughly the size of Indiana but with 48 Million people. Quick math indicates that would be 487 people per sq km. There are 22 Million installed phone lines, or roughly one phone line for every two people.

    Throw in 4% of the population living below the poverty line, and 3.14% recorded unemployment - the South Korean people can afford services like broadband.

    Compartively the US has 9,161,923 sq km of land, with approximately 293 million people. That comes to 31 people per sq km on average. Given that most broadband services are distance sensitive, the cost of deploying broadband to the 31% of people living in low population desity areas, and keeping it relatively affordable becomes problematic. Add in to that number 12% of the US population who are below the poverty line. There are roughly 43% of the US population who either can't afford broadband or may not have service in their area.

    It's pretty clear why South Korea can easily out pace the US on deploying broadband services to the people of their country. The US has greater obstacles to face - given time, these will be overcome.
  • by odibil ( 853995 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:22PM (#11740402)
    Well, I am actually a South Korean studying in US for 5 years. Although the broadband infrastructure there is surely impressive, I am well aware of the limitations and problems associated with the net-frenzyness in South Korea.

    (1) Why so crazy for net?
    First, as most of you already know, South Korea is about 20 times as densely populated as in the US. Even worse, more than half of the whole population live around Seoul, in a region that only counts one tenth of the country. I'm not mentioning the economy matters. Rather, I am pointing out that chances for sound outdoor activities are really scarce! For scuva diving, bike hiking, yacht and wind-surfing, ..., well, that's only for some manias; it's really hard to grab a decent place for such things. The result is that more and more people are just relaxing at on-line rather than outdoors. Well, not very good for health. :(

    (2) So what do they do with net?
    Next, because of that, most of the netizen activities of South Koreans are not very productive. Downloading pirated movies and musics, playing online games, creating and enjoying weird online communities, ..., most of them are just consuming digital merchandise having nothing to do with real life. For instance, I can hardly see handful of Koreans in any major open source project.

    (3) What's wrong with the digital consumerism? Why don't I like it?
    These "digital consumerism" originated from the Asian economy crisis that hit South Korea at the end of 1997. To revive the economy, South Korean government encouraged IT industries and infrastructures, and lots of online contents providers are founded. One of the biggest investors were Micro$oft, and they provided support for developing M$-specific webpages; a screenful of images and ActiveX shits. That awful culture continues growing and growing, and now it's really a pain in the ... posterior ... to see major South Korean webpage with non-WinIE browser. I really wonder if Korean web develoopers have ever heard of W3C. A handful of my friends and myself continue to protest and struggle, but things are never improving.

    In summary, I would say that although South Korean broadband infrastructure is decent, it's far from heaven in terms of what to do with that.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.