Korean Wireless Broadband Confusion
By Mike Masnick, Wed Jan 05 19:00:00 GMT 2005

Just days after South Korea announces plans for a huge "converged broadband network," there's confusion over whether or not Korean companies support plans for the Super 3G network.

The South Korean government has played a major role in helping make that country one of the leaders in both wireless and wired broadband connectivity over the past few years. With that in mind, it wasn't that surprising to find out that the government in Seoul has put in place plans to push for private investment to create a "converged broadband network." This grand unified network would offer everything from mobile and wired broadband at speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps, but also include IP-based video broadcasting, RFID, mobile phone communications and VoIP communications. Basically, everything that people talk about when it comes to broadband, all designed with a bit of direction from the top.

While this seems to have widespread support among the various stakeholders in South Korea who are going to be putting in nearly $8 billion to make this network a reality, there still appears to be some confusion over the details. Part of the plan appears to make use of Wi-Bro, which has gone through some changes over the past few months to make sure it aligned well with WiMAX -- though, there's still some confusion about where WiBro fits into the overall wireless broadband arena.

An even bigger concern, however, may be how this impacts other standards. Following last week's announcement that a number of companies in the space were working on so-called Super 3G, both Samsung and LG spoke up against the group, suggesting it was really an attempt by NTT DoCoMo to do an end run around efforts to settle on a 4G standard.

However, this morning a blurb (no direct link, unfortunately) appeared at Telecoms Korea saying that the Korean government says Samsung and LG are a part of the Super 3G group, saying: "Korean cell phone makers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics also joined the Super 3G project led by NTT Docomo. The report came after both the Korean companies had affirmed a few days ago they considered Super 3G as just another Docomo-led event and did not take it seriously."

What you end up with is a bit of confusion. There's a government trying to orchestrate a grand unified broadband plan. There are problems with making sure whatever is done matches with outside standards. There are complaints from South Korean vendors that a new standards group is messing up existing standards work, followed quickly by the government denying there's any problem at all, and that those speaking out against the standards group are actually a part of the standards group. While South Korea may be working on a grand unified broadband plan, it appears that, so far, not all the ducks are lined up in a row.