Wired Nation Goes Wireless

Moon Ihlwan

South Korea’s mobile carrier KTF on March 1 launched the world’s first “nationwide” network enabling seamless video conferencing on the go. The network, using the technology called High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (or HSDPA) serves as a new information superhighway moving data at a maximum speed of 3.6 megabits per second. Cell phones may no longer be the right term to describe the device used in this new environment, which will accommodate a host of innovative mobile gadgets and multimedia services.

Already, more than 3 million Koreans use their mobile gadgets to regularly log on to the giant Cyworld social networking site. Many of them regularly post photos and video clips they created with their camera phones onto their home pages. “I’m sure the new service will bring about huge changes in the telecom industry and the way people communicate,” says KTF Chief Executive Cho Young Chu.

The HSDPA system will keep Korea’s status as a test bed for new mobile and Internet services. Already nearly 90% of the country’s 15.9 million households have broadband access to the Net from their homes through DSL, cable and fiber-optic lines. Korea’s largest mobile service provider, SK Telecom, now offers HSDPA links in 84 major cities, but is due to expand the high-speed reach throughout the entire nation later this month.

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