According to Akamai’s Q4 2015 rankings, South Korea has an average connection speed of 26.7 Mbps and an average peak connection speed of 95.3 Mbps, thus ranking 1st in the world in terms of Internet connectivity.
According to a 2017 estimate, there are roughly 52 million people currently living in South Korea.
Korean Internet Penetration Rate
Stats published by Internetlivestats.com assert that 85.7% are connected to the Internet. It is among the highest internet penetration rates in the world.
Types of Connections
The Internet infrastructure in South Korea is primarily defined by the existence of dial-up and broadband connections, the latter being the prominent type of connection. About 10% of homes use dial-up to access the Internet.
Broadband access is primarily divided into DSL, Cable and Satellite connections. Of these, DSL (ADSL and VDSL specifically) is the most widespread type of broadband connection in South Korea.
The Internet industry belongs to the private sector, and is divided between a handful of ISPs. Specifically, there are three companies that pull all the strings on the local market: KT Corp, SKBroadband and LGU+ (previously DACOM). Apart from providing broadband access, these companies also lease lines to smaller companies and operate Internet datacenters in Seoul and Incheon.
According to stats published by Numbeo.com, getting Internet access in South Korea is easy and fairly cheap. As such, a basic subscription to the Internet, comprising speeds of 100 Mbps, with unlimited data, on either DSL or Cable technology, starts at approximately $22 per month. This is great value for money if we take into account prices in other countries where the Internet infrastructure is not as developed, such as the United States or Switzerland.
Below you can find some of the most important characteristics of the Internet in South Korea:
1. Broadband is the predominant type of connection
While rare, dial-up still exists in South Korea, and there are continuous attempts made to complete the conversion from dial-up to broadband. According to stats published by ptc.org, broadband access currently experiences very fast-paced advancement. Currently, 85.7% of the population is connected to the Internet, with more than 80% being connected via broadband. South Korea is also the first country in the world with more than 55% of homes using FTTH/B connections.
2. Industry belongs to the private sector
The Internet industry in South Korea is very advanced and only continues to be prosperous due to very liberal legislation imposed by the government specifically to help companies develop the industry as much as possible.
3. Strict censorship. Stern copyright laws
Even though South Korea boasts the fastest Internet speeds in the world, it remains a very restrictive country in terms of freedom of expression, especially when it comes to expressing oneself on the Internet. According to the Telecommunication Business Law, there are a few government agencies that carry out surveillance on the Internet. KISCOM, for example, is empowered to impose ISPs to block access to “subversive communication”, “materials harmful to minors”, “cyber defamation”, “sexual violence”, “cyber stalking”, etc. It should also be noted that – explicit – pornography and gambling are strictly illegal in South Korea, and those found to access content related to either are severely punished. On the other hand, copyright legislation in South Korea has always been quite restrictive by nature. According to a wide array of criticisms given by numerous NGOs, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the copyright law gives too much power to copyright holders, which in turn generates further limits on the freedom of expression and thus boosts censorship.