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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 11:55 GMT
Korea plans ultra fast broadband
Gamers in cybercafe in Seoul, BBC
Online gaming is hugely popular in South Korea
South Korea is embarking on a huge project to make its national broadband network even faster.

The government and telecommunication companies will spend 2.1 trillion won (1.06bn) to upgrade Korea's network.

When the project ends in 2010 the top speed of South Korea's core broadband infrastructure will be 100Mbps.

The government said it would link up with the country's wireless networks to create a ubiquitous system that boosts e-health and education initiatives.

Speed lover

The South Korean Government has set aside 990.5 billion won (500m) for the project, said a statement from the country's Information and Telecommunication Ministry.

It is expecting industry to pick up the rest of the bill for the national upgrading project.

South Korea
Hong Kong, China
International Telecommunication Union
Currently South Korea's core network runs at speeds of up to two megabits per second (mbps) and its citizens are among the most enthusiastic users of the net.

About 70% of the 48m population use the net and 11 million have a broadband link.

Part of the reason for this adoption of high-speed networking is the fact that the South Korean Government has run initiatives to get people online. One key project forced schools to make much greater use of the net for research and teaching.

Online gaming is also hugely popular and virtual worlds such as Mu Online have more than 300,000 regular players.

Net leagues

But despite this widespread adoption, South Korea is not the most wired country on Earth.

Sweden tops the list of most wired nations according to figures released by the International Telecommunication Union.

Denmark and Iceland were second and third in the Digital Access Index which ranks countries on the basis of number of telephone lines and mobile phones per person, the cost of going online, national literacy, how fast broadband links are and the percentage of citizens who are net users.

South Korea came in fourth in the list, with the UK at 12 and the US at 11.

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