30 years of Internet
Remarkable progress but side-effects must be tackled
``Internet from the cradle to the grave.’’ Our political, economic, social and cultural lives have changed a lot since the Internet was introduced 30 years ago. During that period, it has developed remarkably in Korea ― probably at the fastest pace in the world ― creating ripples that touch every aspect of our daily lives.
Korea’s Internet history dates back to May 15, 1982, when a computer at Seoul National University was linked to an electronic think tank in the southeastern industrial city of Gumi. At the time, Internet speed was 1,200 bytes per second. Now we can watch a baseball game on the street with a long-term evolution (LTE) smartphone, which boasts 75 megabits per second, more than 60,000 times faster.
The Internet has flown high in Korea over the last three decades. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) says the country’s Web users numbered 37 million as of 2010, meaning that excluding toddlers, almost all Koreans log on every day. People’s Internet use reached 14.7 hours a week on average in 2010 and by now the weekly figure will have surpassed 20 hours.
The connection speed became 830 times faster on average during the 30-year period and should the more advanced LTE connectivity become popular, this speed will increase to five times faster than now.
The Internet’s industrial development has been spectacular as well. According to the U.S.-based Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Korea’s Internet economy amounted to 86 trillion won in 2010, accounting for 7 percent of our gross domestic product ― Korea ranked second after Britain (8.3 percent) in the percentage of Internet economy to GDP.
Large Internet-based businesses have come to the fore in search engine, games and commerce fields with some of them chalking up sales of more than 1 trillion won. Transactions through Internet banking reached 33 trillion won a day during the first quarter of this year.
More recently, mobile Internet and social networks have gained impetus, enabling Samsung Electronics to surge ahead of Nokia, the perennial leader in handsets, to be ranked as the world’s number one.
However, all things are not rosy. Side-effects from the widespread use of the Internet should not be made light of.
The most serious problem is the leak of personal information, which leads to violations of privacy. Several Internet companies have been hacked over the past few years, thereby putting a great number of people at risk. Other problems include Internet addiction, spread of rumors and malignant comments and Internet-related crimes.
Nonetheless, the Internet should be prepared for another successful 30 years. To this end, the government should push for consistent policies and boost research and development to encourage the development of innovative Internet-related technologies. These developments, however, must be based on the notion that all people should be able to enjoy the Internet safely.