South Korea to Get WiBro Services

High-speed Internet services based on a new technology called WiBro (short for Wireless Broadband) are a step closer in South Korea with the government's selection of three carriers to provide WiBro-based commercial services.

WiBro is part of the IEEE 802.16 family of wireless Internet specifications and is expected to offer speeds up to 1 megabit for devices traveling at up to 60 kilometers per hour.

The technology is closely related to the WiMax system that has been developed to send a higher-bandwidth signal of several tens of megabits per second to fixed receivers over a distance of several tens of kilometers. WiMax is also part of the IEEE802.16 family.

The South Korean government said late last week that it will award the licenses next month to KT, SK Telecom, and Hanaro Telecom. All three had been expected to gain licenses after Dacom, the only other major carrier to have expressed an interest in the service, dropped out of the running late last year and said it will concentrate on fixed broadband services.

Commercial launch of WiBro services is expected during the middle of 2006, the government said in a statement.

The new services stand to increase the connectivity of those in South Korea, which is already one of the world's most connected nations. Broadband Internet service, both by fixed cable or DSL and by Wi-Fi wireless networks, is widely available throughout the country. South Korea was also one of the first places in the world to start commercial third-generation cellular telephone service, and cellular carriers offer data transmission over CDMA2000 1x EvDO networks at speeds up to 2.4 megabits.

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