- 1. Step Up for Response to Mobile Internet Traffic Spike
An explosive growth of smartphone has triggered new issues of mobile Internet traffic spikes,
which has made the government and industry put forth a multilateral effort into solving the
situation. The three leading telecom companies in Korea saw an eleven-fold increase in mobile
Internet traffic, from 449TB in January 2010 to 5,463TB in January 2011. Since August 2010,
when unlimited data plans were introduced, the traffic growth rate has jumped remarkably,
from 916TB in July 2010 to 1,569TB in September 2010. This trend has led to network traffic
overload on and around hotspots, and the widespread use of Tablet PCs and N-screen services
generating high-volume data transfer is expected to worsen the traffic issue.
In this regard, the service providers are making various efforts to deal with the traffic issues by
expanding existing network capacities, dispersing Internet traffic through WiBro and WiFi,
promoting commercialization of LTE, introducing Femtocell, controlling QoS (Quality of Service),
etc. The government is also coming up with a policy package consisting of realignment of the
existing frequency, establishment of mobile traffic management system and encouragement of
efficient network investment.
- 2. Introduction of Next Generation Internet Address-IPv6, '한국'TLD
As the IPv4 addresses exhausting worldwide along with the widespread use of
smartphones and FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence) services on offer driving sharp increase
in demand for IP addresses, the plan for the acceleration of transition to IPv6 has been
made. According to the IPv6 Transition & Promotion Action Plan, released in September
2010 by the KCC (Korea Communications Commission), the government plans to carry out
the 3 core initiatives including ‘establishing IPv6 commercial service support infrastructure’,
‘raising awareness of IPv6 transition and providing support for the socially vulnerable’, and
‘strengthening IPv6 promotion system and oversight process’, based upon its vision of
establishing the Next Generation Internet Service Infrastructure.
Moreover, the transition to IPv6 is expected to pick up speed as APNIC’s IPv4 address
allocation was practically terminated in April 2011. Meanwhile, ‘한국’ domain has been
registered, which is a new TLD (Top Level Domain) intended for domain names in the local
language(Hangul), giving Korean users an easier way to access the Internet. KISA,
delegated as the registry for ‘한국’ domain by ICANN, launched ‘한글.한국’ service in May
2011 and has phased in the service to prevent possible confusion at the early stage of the implementation.
- 3. Growth of App Marketplace and Fever of App Development
Spread of mobile devices has increased interest in ‘app marketplaces’. The app
marketplace has changed the mobile ecosystem where applications, once seen as part of supplementary services, now become the criteria for the choice of right device. The growth
of the app marketplace has improved the contents distribution environment and provided
developers with opportunities to start up a business, leading to the app-developing craze.
Moreover, with a variety of smartphones and smart pad devices on the market, both Apple’s App Store,
once enjoyed a dominant position in the market, and Google’s Android Market are growing together.
Apple’s App Store, which opened in 2008, reportedly has some 300,000 apps as of the end of 2010,
while Google’s Android Market, with the spread of Android-equipped phones, has about 200,000 apps, making it a two-horse race. In Korea,
as of March 2011, the number of Android OS phone users is 5.68 million among 10 million smartphone users, with the
proportion of Android Market users also exceeding 50%. Local app marketplaces like SK
Telecom’s ‘TStore’ and KT’s ‘olleh market’ are gradually securing the market share as well.
- 4. Vision of Smart Mobile Powerhouse
In response to the new communications environment and for the second leap of the
Internet through the realization of smart mobile powerhouse, the KCC has announced the
‘Mobile Internet Promotion Plan’ in April 2010. This plan is of significance for that it comes
up with a policy in connection to the ecosystem around service, network, device, OS, and
content under the new mobile environment brought by a paradigm shift to smartphone.
With the establishment of mobile office infra induced by the spread of mobile infra, ‘Smart
Mobile Office Promotion Plan’ was made in November 2010, intended for the early
introduction and spread of SMO.
This plan presents the goals to encourage the adoption of SMO in 650,000 companies by
2014 and to promote the spread of smartwork in the private sector, boosting the
productive use of mobile services and strengthening competitiveness of small and medium
enterprises. It also draws up the measures to resolve the SMO service divide such as
offering welfare facilities free wireless LAN, shoring up development of customized
smartphones for the disabled. The government has been also engaging in a variety of
efforts to become Smart Mobile Powerhouse, including expansion of link among related
industries, promotion of location based services, and creation of mobile advertising policy
- 5. Tightening of Personal Information Protection Policy due to Privacy Breach Concerns
The emergence of new services such as location based service and SNS (Social Network
Service) has raised concerns over personal information leakage. The reported number of
private information infringement cases has jumped abruptly to 54,832 in 2010 from 35,167
in 2009. Some ISPs stirred up controversy as they allegedly collected personal information
without consent. Google’s Seoul office was raided by the Police in August 2010 under
suspicion of collecting and storing personal information such as email records over
unencrypted WiFi networks in preparing the Street View service.
In attempt to prevent economic and social damage wrought by personal information
leakage the KCC (Korea Communications Commission) has been working to step up
personal information protection by building and running www.privacycheck.or.kr and
www.iprivacy.kr and by preparing the ‘SNS Personal Information Protection Guidelines’. As
the 「Privacy Protection Act」was enacted in March 2011, conforming to global standards of
data protection principles, it is expected to improve personal information protection.
- 6. The Changes of lifestyle brought by the Popularization of Smartphones
Smartphones, beyond just being a standard communication device, are changed the way
we live through the capability to operate various apps, as well as their highly mobile and
accessible nature. Mobile apps of daily use like guide to famous restaurants, bus routes
and subway time maps provide us with the solutions to our needs regardless of time and
location. Mobile instant-messaging apps such as ‘KaKaoTalk’ and ‘MyPeople’ have changed
the way of communicating, and social commerce apps like ‘Ticket Monster’ and ‘Coupang’
are setting a new trends of group purchasing. Since the launch of its service in March
2010, KakaoTalk has collected a record-breaking 10 million subscribers in such a short
period of time with no link to portal services.
Daum Communications’ MyPeople, released three months later than KaKaoTalk, is also
enjoying rapidly growing number of subscribers with its no charge calls service besides the
free messaging service. Social commerce, taking advantage of the connectivity of SNS and
the nature of group-purchasing, is vitalizing local businesses and is helping small and
medium-sized private business owners meet their marketing needs. Besides, QR codes,
used as a marketing tool by the enterprises, have become a new business model.
- 7. The Second Internet Venture Boom Driven by Mobile and SNS
The Internet industry, slowed since the early 2000s, is seeing the second venture boom
taking shape amid the era of smart devices with the number of Internet-related startups
on the rise and the investments in the fields reviving. As of the end of 2010, Korea Venture
Business Association put the number of start-ups at 24,645, a 30 percent increase on year-
on-year basis. This start-up craze has led to investment, with new investments in startups
and in the IT sector made by venture capital firms increased, 25.8% year-on-year to 1.09
trillion won and 50.1% to 98.6 billion won, respectively.
It is recognized that the spread of smartphones played a major role in this venture boom,
especially as smartphone apps and the parts for the smartphones are major items for
venture startup with SNS related startup like social commerce rising as well. The KCC is
working to help new ventures securing competitiveness in developing and commercializing
technologies and creating new business. It is also making efforts to build market infra for
businesses of all sizes to prosper together. In this regard, the ‘Internet Cooperation Forum’
was launched in September 2010, designed to promote sustainable cooperation and win-
win partnership with companies.
- 8. Freedom of Speech and Self Regulation on the Internet
In December 2010, the Constitutional Court ruled Paragraph 1 of Article 47 of the
「 Electronic Communication Fundamental Law」, which was cited as the grounds for the
prosecution of the online columnist called ‘Minerva’, unconstitutional. The Article states
that the person who spreads false information via telecommunication facilities with the
purpose of harming public interests would be sentenced up to 5 years’ imprisonment or be
fined up to 50 million won. But the ruling was based on the judgment that it was against
the principle of definitude for the punishments as it was impossible to give the objective
interpretation of the terms ‘public interests’ and ‘false information’.
This regulation has drawn public attention to the issue of freedom of speech and
responsibility on the Internet again. With the growth of SNS usage, the cases of cyber
bullying like malicious comments, disclosure of personal information get more frequent. As
such, efforts are being made to nurture a desirable Internet culture. KISO, with 6
members including Daum, NHN, and Yahoo, has been working on this issue through the
channel of policy forums and seminars. In May 2010, the KIDS (Korea Internet Dream
Stars), a youth organization, was launched, aiming to raise awareness among adolescents
about freedom of speech and social responsibility.
- 9. Social Media, Its Powerful Political and Social Influence
SNS has become a new source of public opinion channel so that its influence on politics
and society is growing. In local elections held on June 2, 2010, the voter turnout reached
54.5%, the highest in 15 years with a remarkable increase in turnout rates among young
voters in their 20s to 30s. Experts attribute such a high young voter turnout to the impact
of SNS. SNS became a new forum for debate among voters, encouraging them to express
their political views, and inspired them to cast a vote. Also, SNS allowed voters to
communicate and share opinions with politicians, who are not easy to meet in person.
By promptly distributing information and establishing horizontal relationship among users,
SNS allows users to form consensus on social issues, and exercises its influence on the
business sector including marketing and CRM. SNS is used as a marketing tool in the
cultural events such as film previews, plays in particular, and is also utilized to manage
brand reputations by opening a window for customer service to deal with customer
complaints or concerns. Government departments are also creating their own blogs, and
accounts on twitter, me2day, facebook, etc for better communication with the people.
- 10. Korea's Broadband Internet, Catching the Worldwide attention
According to OECD, Korea doubles OECD average for wireless broadband subscriptions of
41.6%, with the percentage of households with broadband access of 95.9%, highest
among OECD members, reconfirming the nation’s global standing as Internet powerhouse.
The result of the ‘2010 Global Broadband Quality Study’ for 72 participating countries
conducted by Oxford University shows that Korea tops the ranking for a second
consecutive year. Moreover, Korea has been recognized as one of the 14 countries with
the most advanced communication environment i.e. HDTV and WCDMA and captures the
global attention for its competitiveness in N-screen environments like smart TV.
In effort to secure the nation’s posture as global Internet power, the government plans to
develop smart Internet technology, build global test bed, create future leading service
models, strengthen Internet industry infra, and establish secure and reliable Internet
environment. By building the world’s best smart network and solidifying industry infra like
technology R&D, the government intends to preemptively respond to Internet traffic spikes
and to support local companies to go global.