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Candidates Pledge En Masse to Offer Free Wi-Fi

Posted March. 04, 2010 08:46,   


Former lawmaker Shim Sang-jung, a member of the New Progressive Party who is running for governor of Gyeonggi Province, uses her smartphone to handle work when traveling to Seoul via an inter-city bus.

Since the areas where wireless Internet service is available are very limited, she uses the 3-G mobile telecom network most of the time.

“There are little differences between 2G and 3G when reading simple textual information, but the situation is completely different for graphic materials,” she said yesterday.

Rep. Won Hee-ryong of the ruling Grand National Party, who is preparing to run for Seoul mayor, uses wireless 3G Internet services on his laptop, when traveling from Seoul’s Jamsil district to his constituency in the city’s Yangcheon district via Olympic Highway. He said his Internet connection is cut off an average of seven times.

“Since telecommunications has become a basic infrastructure indispensible for our life, the Seoul Metropolitan Government must be responsible for this,” he said.

Political circles have made a flurry of election pledges promising to offer free Wi-Fi under “Tweeter fever” ahead of the June 2 local elections. Candidates are pledging to significantly expand the range of Wi-Fi throughout the country.

The New Progressive Party`s candidates for the elections, including Shim and former lawmaker Roh Hoi-chan, said, “I’ll devise drastic measures to make free wireless Internet available to highly populated places including libraries, galleries, subway stations and township offices.”

Rep. Kim Choong-hwan of the ruling party, who is running for Seoul mayor, said, “The central and provincial governments must implement a proactive policy to help ease the (financial) burden on wireless Internet users.”

One of his election pledges is to offer free Wi-Fi.

The minor conservative Liberty Forward Party said, “Small cities in provincial regions, not to mention Seoul, must be reborn as young, dynamic places,” adding, “We’re considering the provision of free Wi-Fi as our national election pledge and the party platform.”

Rep. Kim Hyo-suk, director of a think tank under the Democratic Party, said, “Korea is known as an Internet powerhouse but is not a leader in wireless Internet. Our party will act to offer Wi-Fi in most of the Seoul metropolitan region to change the capital into the world’s top Internet city.”

“The upcoming elections will be an election of Wi-Fi.”

The progressive Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party say creating a telecom environment allowing convenient smartphone use will lead to more political participation by voters in their 20s and 30s.

The labor party said, “If telecom service fees are lowered, this will benefit younger voters nicknamed the 880,000 won (800 U.S. dollars) generation for their high unemployment rate and low income. If Tweeter is more widely used, a liberal party obviously stands to benefit.”