[Tech ] S. Korean Broadband Internet Access Hits 20 Percent

July 19, 2002



SEOUL (Reuters) - About 20 out of 100 South Koreans have access to high-speed Internet services, the world's highest penetration rate, the Ministry of Information and Communication said on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement South Korea ( news - web sites) had 9.21 million high-speed Internet users at the end of June, 20 percent of its total population of 47 million.

The figures were up almost five percent from 8.78 million broadband users at the end of March.

South Korea ranked first with a penetration rate of 13.9 percent in 2001, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canada ranked second with 6.22 percent.

KT Corp, South Korea's largest Internet service provider (ISP), had 4.3 million users, or 47.1 percent of the domestic broadband market, the ministry said.

Hanaro Telecom Inc, the number-two ISP, had 2.4 million broadband subscribers, or 26.3 percent, followed by Korea Thrunet Co, which ranked third with 1.3 million or 14.1 percent.

The ministry data included broadband subscribers of smaller regional ISPs which offer high-speed Internet services using leased lines from bigger Internet network operators such as KT.

"Given the growth trend, South Korea's broadband users are expected to reach more than 10 million by the end of this year," the ministry said.

The fast growth in South Korea of broadband service came amid harsh competition and huge demand from South Korean users for faster Internet access and games, analysts said.

Shares of KT finished down 3.5 percent at 46,300 won on Friday against the 2.5 percent decline in the broader benchmark stock index