In an increasingly globalized world, more and more people are finding themselves connected to the Internet, thanks to Wi-Fi technology or Wireless Fidelity which offers convenient access to cyberspace sans messy and limiting cables. The release of Wi-Fi-ready gadgets, especially mobile devices, are slowly transforming the way people live. This lifestyle shift is further compounded by the success of many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Often though, cafes, hotels and libraries offer Wi-Fi which not only has crappy connection but is also a tad-bit overpriced. If only every nook and cranny of your city had high-speed Internet connection, you could read emails on the go, or update Facebook statuses while on the subway. Streaming movies at the bus stop or downloading the latest chart-topper would also be possible in seconds.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has made this possible. In fact, it’s the most connected city in the world beating other hubs like Tokyo and Singapore (interestingly the top 5 most connected cites in the world are in Asia). A massive broadband revolution which started almost a decade ago was spurred by the demand of its PC-gaming netizens. Today, the second largest metropolis in the world boasts of an 83% broadband penetration rate.
Everywhere you go, you’ll find easy net connection in the city. From wireless hotspots, to Internet cafes, to PC Baangs or gaming areas and kiosks, Seoul is up-to-date and wired. You might think such a massive network must have a downside, like really slow connection speed? Well think again. Seoul also boasts of the highest average Internet connection speed in the world at 11 mbps. To put some perspective, that’s 4 times as fast as the average speed in the United States. Even Japan’s average is only at 8 mbps. And you know what else is amazing? For such a high speed service, connection is affordable at $20 per month. In fact, some areas of the city boast a net connection speed of 100 mbps for only $30. Entire seasons of your favorite shows can be now downloaded within an hour. No need to leave your computers open overnight to catch the latest Glee episode. At such speeds, you can download HD movies up to two-hours long in just 5 minutes or 1 gigabyte of entertainment in less than ten minutes. YouTube videos will never lag or buffer. Livestreaming will actually be live. And a wrong Tweet will be far more difficult to cancel once you press “enter”.
But the Seoul government isn’t stopping there. The South Korean metropolis is already planning a $44 million project with three local wireless operators to blanket the whole city, and even outside, with free Wi-Fi connection in public areas. Locals and visitors alike are already enjoying Internet connection in subway trains courtesy of Korea Telecom. This means while you’re on your way to work or waiting on platforms, you can entertain yourself with YouTube videos. Taxis and buses are already following suit. With more than half of the the South Korean population predicted to own smartphones by the end of the year, the demand for Wi-Fi has increased dramatically.
The new project will make Wi-Fi available in over 10,000 parks, public zones and streets on the world’s most connected city. Heck, you can probably check your mail or Tweet while inside the comfort room, which though interesting isn’t exactly recommended. In Seoul, the city’s spirit truly lives up to the saying, “A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.“