NEWS: Wibro in South Korea

Seoul is just starting to roll out Wibro, which stands for wireless broadband.

Imagine a city enmeshed in a veil of super-powerful wireless hotspots, each beaming out the internet at broadband speed to everyone in the city, wherever they may be.

That is Korea Telecom's vision for the South Korean capital, and they saw the launch of Wibro this summer as a significant step towards that goal.

Local residents are given a hands-on demo of the virtues of Wibro's impressive capabilities, happily browsing and watching streams of last night's football at the respectable broadband speeds of several megabits a second, all while being chauffeured around the city.

Unfortunately, out in the real world Koreans cannot actually use Wibro on their phones because no-one has figured out how to cram in the bulky and power-hungry Wibro chipsets, and make what is essentially a data service work alongside voice calls.

Technical gremlins mean the connection keeps dropping when users move between Wibro base stations, and it is only available in five districts of Seoul.

Wibro may have arrived in this world-beating mobile metropolis, but it is just that little bit too early.

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John Navas
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