The Internet in Korea & Japan

After living in South Korea for two years I am increasingly frustrated at the state of the Internet industry in Australia. The Australian scene is dominated by Telstra which is half owned by the government.
Ten years ago Telstra was 100% owned by the government. Now the government is in the process of trying to organize a third float of shares to sell its remaining 50% share.
Unfortunally telecommunication policies by the government don’t seem to be aimed at giving consumers more choice. A cynic would suggest the governments policy is to maximize Telstra’s share price so they can sell it for more money.

Telstra in Australia has engaged in some anti-competitive behavior which limits the ability of its competitors.
Internet in Australia mainly consists of ADSL and Cable.
There are only two cable networks in Australia, Telstra and Optus. No one else has the right to lease capacity on the cable networks. They are closed systems.
The ADSL market is supposed to be open. For a competitor to offer services it has to install equipment in the local telephone exchange.
There have been a lot of problems in this area with Telstra dragging its feet.
Telstra owns the network, it is sells internet bandwidth as a wholesaler to ISPs. It is also in the retail market selling directly to consumers.
At one point Telstra was selling internet access to consumers at a cheaper rate then it was selling it to its competitors! This is an abuse of monopoly powers.

When you combine Telstras anti competitive behavior and the governments complete lack of vision what you end up with in Australia is consumers who pay too much for too little.

Compare this with South Korea and Japan (below) where the government is heavily involved in promoting the internet. South Korea has spent tens of billions of dollars in building an internet infrastructure since the late 90’s going from virtually nothing to one of the best services in the world.
In Korea the government formulates a plan, gets the private sector involved by spending billions on infrastructure. The result? A world class environment where even remote hamlets have broadband access if they want it.
Broadband Internet penetration in households is over 70% !

If only the Australian government would say something like this:


Japan Plans Giant Broadband Satellite

Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the new satellite will make it possible to send and receive data at a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second in mountainous areas and remote islands, as well as aboard Shinkansen bullet trains, airplanes and ships.
Tokyo (UPI) Aug 08, 2005
Japanese government officials say they will develop a new communications satellite to provide broadband services that are as fast as fiber optic cable.

Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the new satellite will make it possible to send and receive data at a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second in mountainous areas and remote islands, as well as aboard Shinkansen bullet trains, airplanes and ships.

The ministry plans to incorporate research and development funding in its fiscal 2006 budget request and plans to begin services by 2015.

Officials noted since satellites are immune to damage by earthquakes or floods, they can be used to send live images of disaster-stricken areas and provide information to disaster victims.

The satellite will have a dish antenna measuring 66 feet in diameter. It will be four times larger in diameter and 16 times larger in surface area than a conventional satellite antenna.

The satellite will be able to receive weak signals – even a cell phone with relatively low power output would be able to communicate at a maximum speed of 10 megabits per second, or at least four times faster than existing third generation cell phones

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