South Korea aims to provide gigabit speed to individual homes by 2012

What does a country that already leads the world with an average broadband speed of 12Mbps do for an encore? Simple: They promise 1,000Mbps by 2012. By way of comparison, the UK is trying to guarantee two Mbps service in the near future and according to Akamai, the United States currently averages a snail’s pace of 4.6 Mbps.

According to the BBC, “the [South Korean] government is encouraging enterprise to spend the 34 trillion Won (£19bn)” required to build the infrastructure. That number is roughly equal to the amount that the country spends on education.

While South Korea has long been known as a “connected” country, what will anyone use that type of speed for when most ISPs have pipes much smaller than that? One possibility is that traditional television service will be upgraded and streamed through the internet. Microsoft has been steering video distribution in this direction, as has Netflix, and with a fast Internet backbone this could easily become a reality. When an entire HD movie can be downloaded in less than five minutes, everyone in the home can consume whatever media they want without negatively impacting anyone else. This all assumes that the providers can keep up and provide content to everyone at the speeds that South Korea is promising.

It remains to be seen whether this is something that is actually achievable or whether it’s simply bravado from the government’s leaders, but there’s nobody out there who would turn the service down if it was offered for a reasonable price.

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