I have stayed in many of South Korea’s diverse range of accommodations, from deluxe and standard class hotels to Hanoks (traditionally built inns) and Temples, all have one thing in common – good quality WiFi, to the extent that the internet service has never been interrupted whilst I have been in the country.
It might have something to do with Korea being the most wired country on earth and it continues to live up to its reputation as home to the most advanced technology on the planet. It has the fastest average broadband speed in the world at 22.1 mbps which is nearly twice as much as their nearest rival Japan who comes in at 13.3 mbps coupled with the fastest 4G network anywhere on the planet. Seoul is the world’s most connected city with over 10,000 free wiFi hot spots which includes every part of Incheon International Airport, which has been a blessing during the perennial long wait airside.
So it is with no surprise that South Korea came top in hotel WiFi quality by ‘Hotel WiFi Test’ who released a recent report that ranks cities, countries, and world regions by WiFi attributes. Two characteristics of hotel WiFi are considered: the quality of the WiFi and whether in-room WiFi is free. Korea scored 92%, some distance in front of its nearest competitor, which means that business or leisure travellers to the destination, can expect super-fast and consistently stable WiFi during their stay, which has increasingly become a priority for every hotel guest.
Hotel WiFi Test stated in the report, that a hotel is judged as having adequate WiFi if they can provide an expected download speed of at least 3 Mbps (the Netflix recommendation for SD-quality streaming). In Korea widespread download speeds achieve 80 mbps and that’s why you will see that most commuters are focused on their smartphones watching TV or playing games whilst commuting, even on Seoul’s subterranean metro system.
70% of Korea’s population own a smartphone and increasingly use it for pretty everything, from paying the fare in a ‘smart taxi’ via NFC (Near Field Communication) or ordering your shopping from virtual supermarkets found in public areas. The demand for faster download speeds and greater innovation is unabated and Samsung is meeting that demand with the development of the ‘Samsung LTE-A’ phone which can take advantage of Seoul’s incredibly fast next generation mobile network, allowing the download of an HD film in around 40 seconds. When Korea unveils 5G to the world in 2017, that same movie could be downloaded in just 1 second!
I, like many other travellers regularly visit Korea to take advantage of their unique culture, but also to get a head start and gen up on how we will be living in the future. It seems bizarre that Korean technology is allowing their population to live our future right now, which makes it all the more important to learn from this trend setting Asian destination.