High-speed internet to be available in rural areas in South Korea from 2020

High-speed internet services will be extended to people living in remote regions after the government decided to give everyone in Korea internet access, the science ministry said Friday.

The Ministry of Science and ICT said it is planning universal service obligation legislation to make it mandatory for internet service providers to build high-speed networks in remote areas.

Service providers are now only required to offer voice services to those areas. The ministry said the universal service obligation is to narrow the digital divide in the country and expand network infrastructure, a core element for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Nowadays, access to high-speed internet has become an essential part of everyday life, as people can gain information, make financial trades and do online shopping,” the ministry said. “Though Korea is renowned for its high penetration rate of high-speed internet, there have been areas where service providers have not offered their service as they are unprofitable.”

The science ministry said it will give details of the plan in the middle of 2019 and it expects everyone will have access to high-speed internet ― regardless of where they live ― starting in 2020.

According to ministry data, it is presumed there are some 800,000 buildings that have missed out on a high-speed internet service because of low profitability for providers.

The science ministry said universal high-speed broadband is nothing new as several countries have already implemented it.

“Many countries including the United States, Spain, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Croatia and Malta are providing a universal high-speed broadband service,” the ministry said.

The government is seeking comments from the public and organizations on its planned legislation until Feb. 8.

Meanwhile, low-income individuals and disabled people will receive discounts for using the fifth-generation (5G) network service. The government said this is pre-emptive move before commercialization of the super-fast network in 2019.

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