The Seoul Metropolitan Government has installed free WiFi at over 2,300 bus stops across the city, adding to the near blanket WiFi coverage of transport systems in South Korea. The move, which is designed to “lessen the financial burden of communication costs and narrow the information gap among citizens” will see even more free WiFi offered in the Jongno office district and the southern Gangnam of the capital city.
South Korea, and Seoul in particular, already leads the World in adding WiFi to transport services. Seoul’s Metro has offered WiFi to passengers since 2009, initially provided for free only to subscribers of the two mobile companies responsible for the system, but now free to all.
All trains in the country offer free WiFi to passengers. Even the slow running, multi-stopping Mugunghwa trains are equipped to offer WiFi nationally. Last year, Korail said it had completed installing equipment on 609 non-express trains after partnering with the country's top three mobile carriers –- SKT, KT and LGU+. Korail had already installed WiFi on the fast inter-city services. Some 35,600 buses across the country also provide mobile WiFi services for passengers. WiFi is also offered across the country’s public spaces, including parks, tourist attractions, markets, and transport hubs.
Seoul city government said yesterday that it had finished the installation of wireless access points at bus stops a year ahead of schedule. There are 4,080 bus stops in Seoul and the council has added access points at 2,340 of them.
Government officials point out that free WiFi is not intended to compete with commercial mobile broadband services offered by South Korea’s telcos. However, a statement from the city administrators conceded that demand for connectivity is on the rise, while prices continue to increase too. For that reason, the metropolitan government argues, a city-wide free WiFi network helps reduce connectivity costs for Koreans living on a tight budget.
The full programme for this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference (November 16th and 17th) is available now at www.Traincomms.com .