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Setting Global IT Trend
Despite the slowdown in the global information technology industry and the sluggish domestic economy for the past two years, the Korean IT industry has maintained an annual growth of 13.2 percent and contributed to exports, playing a role as the driving engine of the Korean economy.
Last year, Korea ranked first among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of IT contribution to the economy, with the industry recording 240 trillion won in production and $74.7 billion in exports.
Korea has also been globally recognized for its outstanding information infrastructure.
Korea has 36 million mobile subscribers, 12 million broadband Internet lines and 20 million PCs across the country. The broadband penetration, which was 59.4 percent in 2003, now stands at 70.2 percent.
When the Roh Moo-hyun administration was launched, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) set a priority on the establishment of a master plan to identify and develop new growth engines that will lead the Korean economy for the next decade.
Based on the plan, the ministry set forth the IT839 strategy, which introduces and promotes eight services, three infrastructures and nine cash cows based on the unique value chain of the IT industry.
As a result, the WiBro (wireless broadband) system and the DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) transmission and reception system were successfully developed for the first time in the world and have been suggested as international standards.
At the same time, the ministry has focused on the development of key IT components in the fields, including next-generation FTTH (fiber to the home) Internet, home network and next-generation PC.
In addition, the foundation for futuristic infrastructures such as broadband convergence network, ubiquitous sensor network and IPv6 have been laid to prepare for a ubiquitous society. The ministry also created an environment ready for new services such as WiBro, DMB, telematics and Internet telephony services, providing a new growth momentum for the sluggish telecom market.
On the other hand, efforts have been made to address the increasing adverse effects of the Internet.
The ministry shortened the initial response time to Internet security breaches such as cyber terrorism to less than half an hour and reduced the average number of spam mails received per day from 50 in 2003 to 26.7 early this year.
Overcoming Challenges Ahead
The IT industry in Korea has been faced with many challenges, including the slowdown in domestic and global economies, technology gap with advanced countries, fierce competition from developing countries such as China, and saturation of domestic demands.
To advance informatization across the country, however, the ministry has another responsibility to address negative effects of informatization such as privacy infringements, hacking and viruses and to bridge the digital divide.
Under the recognition that the year 2005 will be a turning point to the MIC as well as to the current administration, the ministry will continue to focus its efforts on overcoming the challenges and building Korea into a global IT powerhouse.
On the back of the achievements over the past two years, the IT839 strategy will be carried out as planned under the goal to increase per capita gross domestic product (GDP) to $20,000.
First of all, pilot projects in the fields with huge ripple effects such as three cutting-edge infrastructures and telematics services will be launched.
The pilot projects will develop service models, test and verify technologies and encourage investment from the private sector.
At the same time, frameworks for the launch of new services such as operator selection, revision of regulations and technology development will be completed to create demands for related industries.
More specifically, the ministry selected WiBro operators early this year and plans to set forth licensing conditions to enhance fair competition and protect user interests.
It will also continue discussions with the Korea Broadcasting Commission on the retransmission of over-the-air broadcasting programs over satellite DMB, which is in a trial stage.
Operators of terrestrial DMB will be selected and the full terrestrial DMB service will begin within the first half of this year.
In addition, the government and related industries will work together to form a DMB demonstration team to promote the service overseas and suggest it as an international standard.
In an effort to effectively implement the IT839 strategy, the ministry will consistently focus on technology development and standardization for new services while taking necessary measures to resolve the aggravating imbalance of parts trade.
Based on the success of WiBro and DMB, the ministry will put an emphasis on source technologies and mid- to long-term business models for intelligent service robots, next-generation PCs and RFID (radio frequency identification), areas with great market potential, within five years.
At the same time, IT SMERP (IT Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Revitalization Program) has been introduced to boost the competitiveness of IT small-sized companies and venture firms.
A strategic focus has been given to open source software and software engineering while software procurement processes of public agencies have been improved to broaden the market for small software companies.
With the IT globalization strategy, the ministry will promote IT Korea in the global market and actively attract world-best IT technologies and human resources to the country to maintain the global competitiveness of the Korean IT industry.
Based on the advanced IT infrastructure and services, the ministry will strengthen its efforts to create a ubiquitous IT hub that draws technology, human resources and funds of Northeast Asia.
To enable everyone to access IT services anytime, anywhere, and pursue true humanism in the digital world, broadband convergence networks that provide Internet services at the speed of 50 to 100Mbps (megabits per second) will be deployed by 2010, IT training will be offered to 5 million digital have-nots by 2008 and the broadband coverage will expand throughout the country by 2007.
At the same time, the ministry will create a safe and secure digital environment by addressing adverse effects of informatization such as privacy infringement, hacking and viruses, distribution of illegal and harmful information, and Internet addiction.