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International Academy for Trans-Sector Use of Broadband

Dr. Kim Seang-Tae, the President of the National Information Society Agency of South Korea. Also one of the Commissioners of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development.While jogging along LacLeman in Geneva I caught up with Dr. Kim Seang-Tae, the President of the National Information Society Agency of South Korea. He is also one of the Commissioners of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Dr. Seang-Tae is the chief architect of the FttH miracle that is transforming South Korea. His broadband journey began in 1994, when he developed the country’s first broadband plan. In all, over $70bn has been invested by the government over the last 15 years, and as a result high-speed broadband is very affordable and subsidies are in place for rural users and others who might otherwise not have been able to pay for access.

The country now has over 70% high-speed broadband coverage with an uptake rate of above 50%. This large-scale result and high penetration level is now also opening up the market for new mass market services.

There is now a clear trend towards a trans-sector use of the infrastructure and Dr. Seang-Tae also envisages that this will eventually lead to free broadband access and that revenue will be generated from the services that are being provided over the infrastructure.

From the very early days this was government-driven policy. Throughout our walk he kept on mentioning the importance of a top-down approach. Of course I agreed wholeheartedly with this as I am preaching that same message in relation to the trans-sector concept.

Korea does have a Presidential Committee on e-Government and this comprises all the various government sectors such as healthcare, education, energy, transport, etc. This goes one step further than the trans-sector units that I have mentioned previously, which operate from the offices of the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand and at the White House.

High-level government leadership is needed to break through the various departmental silos—it is only at this level that things can start to happen. The industry is more than happy to take the lead from that point on.

As a matter of fact, back in the 1990s it was very much the industry that took the lead from the government and built Korea into the smart country it is today—an example to the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, despite its success, silo thinking continues to be a problem in advancing the social and economic benefits more quickly. This gave Dr. Seang-Tae the idea of looking at what would be further needed to improve this situation—the Presidential Committee, despite its success, is still not sufficient to make this happen.

He had the novel idea of looking to the concept of an Academy for key people in (the departmental silos of) government and politics and to teach them about the economic and social benefits that a trans-sector approach to the use of broadband infrastructure. Because the issues are universal, this could indeed be an International Academy, which could also greatly contribute to assist the developing countries.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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