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Posted : 2011-03-07 17:35
Updated : 2011-03-07 17:35

WiBro services available nationwide


Models present various gadgets that use WiBro services by KT. The mobile carrier has launched promotional events, cutting rates for those subscribing to its WiBro service by March 31. KT has completed building its nationwide commercial WiBro 4G network. / Courtesy of KT

By Yoon Ja-young

KT announced last week that it has completed building up its nationwide commercial WiBro 4G network. The country became the first in the world to enjoy full coverage, and WiBro made a big step forward in competition to become the standard of fourth generation (4G) mobile technology.

What is WiBro?

WiBro, an abbreviation of Wireless Broadband, is the first 4G Internet technology. Unlike code division multiple access (CDMA) which compelled Korean manufacturers to pay huge royalties to Qualcomm, Korea led the development of the technology.

WiBro is about three times faster than the HSDPA/HSUPA 3G network. The download speed of the 3G network is at 14.4 Mbps, while WiBro 4G pulls it up to 40.32Mbps. The technology enables users to enjoy broadband Internet in cars or subways that run at high speed. It is competing with long-term evolution (LTE), developed by major IT companies in Europe, to become the standard 4G technology.

The two are 90 percent similar to each other in core technology. While WiBro took the lead in commercialization, LTE, which is an upgraded version of 3G, boasts better compatibility with 3G. Both of them are expecting to be selected as the standard 4G technology by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency regulating information and communication technology issues which has set requirements for each generation of wireless technology.

Though it sounds similar to WiBro, Wi-Fi, is quite another thing. It is wireless Internet technology that just applies to a small area.

The 4G technologies allow access to cyberspace much quicker than the conventional 3G platform. As users will enjoy stable communication and Internet through digital devices such as tablet PCs and laptops while moving at speed of hundreds of kilometers per hour, true ubiquity will become a reality.

Data traffic explosion

Mobile carriers are speeding up transit to 4G services to deal with explosive data increases amid the smartphone boom. AT&T, which adopted the iPhone for the first time in the United States, saw data traffic grow 50 times in three years since 2006. Wireless data traffic will expand 39 times worldwide from 2009 to 2014, according to Morgan Stanley.

KT, the country’s second largest mobile carrier, chose WiBro as the solution to deal with the data explosion, noting its competitiveness in network, terminal, quality service and price. The carrier has been diffusing data traffic through 3Ws, or Wi-Fi, WCDMA and WiBro. Currently, Wi-Fi shoulders 45 percent of data traffic, WiBro 25 percent, and WCDMA 30 percent.

“We would say that WiBro is the best choice for now, as LTE is only at the initial stage. Its service quality is not guaranteed, and terminals are not widely available. It will take some time for the complete commercialization of the service,” a representative for KT said.

KT became the first in the world to complete a nationwide setup of a 4G WiBro network. It previously had networks in Seoul and the metropolitan area plus five major cities around the country. It then expanded the network to all cities and major highways. Now, its WiBro network covers 85 percent of the total population, far exceeding the WiBro coverage of the United States at 36 percent or Japan’s 70 percent.

The completion enables KT customers to enjoy broadband Internet services much faster and seamlessly on the move, in almost all parts of the country.

“We plan to turn the country into a mobile wonderland where all people get smart, by continuing to expand both wired and wireless total network services,” said Pyo Hyun-myung, who heads KT’s mobile business division.

WiBro in dockyard

WiBro technology can pull up productivity at business sites. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the leading shipbuilder in the world, shows how WiBro can help cut costs in operation and monitoring.

Effective communication is essential while building ships. At Hyundai Heavy Industries the workers carry diverse communication devices such as cell phones and walkie-talkies for continuous communication within and outside the gigantic vessels.

Due to the noise, the workers often had to come out, climbing 30 to 40 meters to communicate, though it took 20 minutes. With the adoption of WiBro communication has become possible anywhere. It decreases losses in time and inconvenience. It also prevents accidents that occurred while getting in and out of ships.

It pulled up efficiency. It took almost half day for workers there to go back to the office to check and correct the assembly blueprint each time they faced unforeseen difficulties. Now they can handle it immediately with WiBro netbooks.

“Information and communication technology is applying both wired and wireless communication networks and devices to industries such as automobiles, construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, transport, finance, medical services and retail. It is providing a real time working environment, optimizing the production and operation process,” a representative for KT said.

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