TECH TALK: South Korea’s IT839: The Impact

If all goes well with the new technologies that South Korea is working to introduce, this future as outlined by Business Week may become a reality faster than we imagine:

Strolling down a street in Seoul, you notice a billboard advertising flower delivery, and you remember it’s your girlfriend’s birthday. The billboard is equipped with an embedded radio chip. You whip out your mobile phone and press a “hot” key that connects with the chip and calls up information from the advertised flower shop on your phone’s display. You select a bouquet of daffodils, and a query pops up asking if you want to include a song. You pick a ditty dedicated to daffodils, and click “send” to place your order, which is billed to the phone. The shop delivers the flowers, with a radio chip attached to the wrapping paper. Your girlfriend clicks the hot key on her phone, and it plays the song. She is happy you remembered; SK Telecom is delighted because it gets traffic and earns money from selling the music as well.

AsiaTele writes about how the BcN initiative evolved and how it can give South Korea an edge in the next-generation networks space:

Two years ago, the government decided to aggregate all NGN efforts into a single project coordinated by the National Computer Agency (NCA). This project was named BcN, and the ETRIs network laboratory also changed its name to BcN division. Over time, the scope of BcN was broadened to include almost any technology or service that might be usable in the coming NGN age. BcN is now one of three infrastructure projects in the governments IT839 plan.

The reason that South Korea is in a propitious position to seize the world initiative in NGN is its successful rollout of broadband in recent years. Broadband with 8-10Mbps now reaches 70-80% of the homes and businesses in South Korea, which means there is a burgeoning demand for better and faster data communications.

While most advanced countries are still, often slowly, rolling out broadband, South Korea is ready to move to the next level which is nationwide 50-100Mbps FTTH and mobile access to a single IP-based network capable of handling and offering every thinkable service, especially multimedia services.

The Korea Herald adds: Industry watchers expect Internet protocol-based television, next-generation mobile telephony and portable Internet to be the killer applications for the new network. The broadband convergence network is the core of our national info-tech strategy. By successfully integrating the broadband convergence network with advanced end-user applications, Korea will be at least five years ahead of other developed countries in information-based consumer services,said Seo Seok-jin, director of the Communication Ministry’s broadband convergence network division.

IT839 is not just about making South Korea as the worlds showpiece for emerging technologies. The driving factor is business and the race to build tomorrows global technology leaders. In this, South Korean companies will end up having an edge because of their domestic base. This leadership is happening because of the governments vision and will to take big, bold bets and back them up with capital.

In India, so far, we have seen very little of this not just in the government but also the private sector. So, what lessons can India learn from South Korea and its IT839 initiative?

Tomorrow: Learnings for India

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.