'Int'l Cooperation
in ICT Industry'

MIC Minister Chin presides over a meeting of ICT ministers from 12 countries

Information and communication ministers and vice ministers from 12 countries, including Korea as the host, gathered for an annual conference and roundtable discussion, part of the Seoul Digital Forum-World ICT Summit, on May 19 to discuss topics like improving cooperation in the ICT sector.
Minister of Information and Communication Chin Dae-je stressed ways of exploring government-to-government cooperation in the ICT field on top of his introduction of Korea's ICT policies during the conferences in which the ministers and vice ministers from Iran, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia and Indonesia, and six others, participated. The meeting was the first such conference held in accordance with a proposal on sharing experiences of leading ICT countries and improving cooperation made during ITU Asia Telecom in Busan last year.
Minister Chin presided over the meeting in which he presented Korea's informatization situation, mid- and long-term info-tech development plans and R&D investment plans.
In the meantime, Minister Chin said in an interview with NewsWorld said the government has exerted itself to attract R&D centers of global IT corporations as part of its plan to develop Korea as a R&D hub of Northeast Asia following President Roh Moo-hyun? state visit to the United States in 2003.
Research institutes, affiliated with multinational corporations that were established before 2003 in Korea have performed such functions as maintenance of marketed products, localization and design development, but virtually none in R&D centers.
Korea has signed agreements with foreign corporations to set up R&D centers in the country ? five in 2004 and three in 2005. The multinational corporations and institutes with which Korea has inked a deal include Intel, Fraunhofer, IBM, HP, Siemens (took over a stake in Dasan Network), Australian Photonics Cooperative Research Center, Cambridge University and Caspian Networks. Agilent, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have opened their R&D centers here so far this year to conduct joint researches on advanced IT technology sectors.
MIC, capitalizing on the advantage of Korea, emerging as the test bed for advanced technologies and services, has accelerated its bid to attract more R&D centers of multinational corporations with the aim of raising the per capita national income to $20,000 and shifting the local economy into an advanced one.
The ministry plans to diversify the scope of prospective R&D centers to global IT corporations with key technologies, smaller venture companies, universities and research institutions by taking into account the implementation of the so-called IT839 Strategy, initiated by the government.
It is seeking to attract global IT companies specializing in such futuristic, promising industries as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)/USN (Ubiquitous Sensor Network), which is compatible with the government's vision of realizing ubiquitous-Korea, so as to serve as anchor tenants that have great spillover effects like job creation and production at the Songdo IT industrial cluster in Incheon.
Songdo u-IT Hub Project
The government considers the Songdo area, part of the Incheon Free International Zone, as a potential center of RFID/USN industries, over which countries are increasingly competing to obtain the upper hand.
The ministry wants to establish a common industrial infrastructure for fostering potential industries like a joint experiment center by 2008. It predicts that Korean companies?market share in the global RFID/USN industries would range from 10 to 20 percent, with wider business opportunities when the Songdo u-IT hub project is completed in 2010.
The government is contemplating a plan to create a research-friendly environment in Sangamdong in Seoul under a project to build an advanced IT complex.
In the meantime, it is actively providing support to enhance the synergetic effects of the opened R&D centers by making R&D center directors?meetings regular and firming up committees for screening joint study tasks.
As to the emerging W-CDMA (wideband code division multiple access) service, the government is exploring ways to secure stability in the W-CDMA service sector, like stimulating investments, providing support to solve technical problems of terminals and allowing subsidies extended to the purchase of handsets. Worldwide, 52 operators from 28 countries have offered W-CDMA services that are expected to shape up as a mainstay of futurist third-generation mobile telecom services as of last August.
In Korea, W-CDMA services were introduced in Seoul and other metropolitan areas in the late December of 2003, but they have failed to arouse a keen interest among the general public as the systems and handsets of the services are not enough to meet public expectations compared to the existing EV-DO services and there are a small number of subscribers. As of the end of last year, W-CDMA subscribers were tallied at 1,414 ? 493 subscribers for SK Telecom and 921 others for KTF.
W-CDMA operators plan to expand network infrastructures across the nation in earnest this year with the number of cities covering the services projected to grow to 23 by late this year. MIC expects W-CDMA networks to increase to 84 cities by the end of next June, with a projection of subscribers accounting for 89.6 percent of the nation's population.
Concerning the launch of convergence services combining communication and broadcasting, MIC is considering overhauling regulation policies and legal systems related to the convergence services on top of building up Broadband Convergence Network (BcN) designed to introduce and revitalize the convergence services.
Such convergence services as IP-TV (broadband TV) and mobile broadcasting are in the early stage with their market portion accounting for a meager 0.2 percent of the communication-broadcasting sector.
The ministry sees it as desirable to relax as much restrictions as possible in the early stage of introducing the convergence services as advanced countries like the United States and UK do. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has maintained a hands-off approach, while UK has enacted a light touch regulation.
It plans to actively participate in discussing the restructuring of the communication-broadcasting convergence industries in such a way to facilitate the convergence industries and evolve a virtuous cycle of IT industries.
In a bid to better protect people from a rising trend of infringing personal privacy, the ministry submitted a bill on enacting the basic law on the protection of personal information last year, but the National Assembly has yet to act on it.
Telecommunication firms, including mobile operators, have set up task forces designed to tackle such issues as exposure of personal information on the Internet. The ministry, in cooperation with the nation's top 8 Internet portal sites, has surveyed conditions on the leakage of personal information, including residents'registration numbers, while having staged a "common campaign to retrieve my leaked personal information."After conducting a survey of about 20,000 companies handling personal information, the ministry plans to strengthen guidance and administrative steps taken against vulnerable companies.
The government will establish a plan to protect personal information by putting on the public management and technical guidelines for the protection of personal information that are mandatory for companies handling personal information. When and if the pending bill on the basic act on the protection of personal information is passed as planned, it will follow up on additional steps designed to protect people from an infringe of personal information.
Considering a serious situation of infringing personal privacy involving telephones and facsimile, the ministry has adopted an opt-in system since last March 31 in which advertisers are required to gain prior approval from receivers.
A daily average of 2,030 spam mails were reported to the authorities before the introduction of the opt-in system, but the figure dramatically dropped 76 percent to 493 per day on average during a two-week period between March 31 and April 13 in the wake of the entry of force of the system.
The ministry, seeing that now is too early to make an exact assessment of the introduction of the system, plans to take additional steps designed to cope with spam problems, based on the outcome of a survey on illegal spam messages conducted during May
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Minister of Information and Communication Chin Dae-je

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