5G backhaul-based public WiFi, implemented with domestically produced equipment, is installed for all 29,100 intra-city buses nationwide.
Minister Lee Jong Ho had a hands-on experience of 5G-based public WiFi service at a bus.
The Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Lee Jong Ho, hereinafter referred to as "MSIT") held an event on December 5th (Tue.), at National Palace Museum of Korea, to commemorate the complete transition of public WiFi installed on all 29,100 city buses nationwide from the previous LTE to 5G. At the event, which was attended by Minister Lee Jong Ho, representatives from the telecommunications industry, and public WiFi users, achievements in public WiFi infrastructure so far were reviewed, and future policy directions for public WiFi to continue providing high-quality services were announced.
Through this transition, it is anticipated that city bus users will be able to enjoy various internet services more conveniently even on the move, with the four-fold improvement of the WiFi speed.
Figure 1: How to use public WiFi in intra-city buses
In addition, public WiFi is anticipated to contribute to cost savings on communication expenses by providing free data access, as it is deployed in a total of 58,000 public areas, including 4,400 new deployment in 2023.
Such initiative for the public WiFi infrastructure, which was started in 2012, is estimated to have provided 66 petabytes (equivalent to 57.96 million HD videos) of data to 9.2 billion individual users cumulatively in the year 2022 alone. Moreover, equipment employed in public WiFi is required to complete the security certification procedure from accredited certification and testing institutes, and Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) technology is utilized to encrypt user data. Overall, the public WiFi infrastructure ensures high-quality and secure internet connection service to users.
Today's event marks the third on-site visit to sites related to public welfare issues, following the first and second at "MVNO (Mobile Virutal Network Operator) Square" and "Smart Center for Senior Citizens." Minister Lee Jong Ho took a look at public WiFi equipment installed at the National Palace Museum, boarded an intra-city bus, and made video calls with students and young citizens. After experiencing 5G-based public WiFi service himself, the Minister listened to user experiences and suggestions coming from those on the bus.
Furthermore, MSIT announced its future policy directions for public WiFi with four key directions: application of new technologies, improvement of interoperation system for commercial WiFi, reallocation of public WiFi resources, and reinforcement of the management and response functions for everyday operation and emergency mitigation.
Applying new technologies to ensure faster and more convenient services
Approximately 14,000 aged WiFi equipment based on WiFi 4 and 5, deployed between 2015 and 2017, and which have been in use past the average lifespan of seven years, are set to be upgraded to WiFi 7 throughout 2025. In case of WiFi equipment experiencing disruptions causing inconvenience for users, a pilot initiative for upgrade to WiFi 7 is planned to begin in 2024, regardless of the period of usage, to improve the quality of service.
WiFi 7 is expected to be introduced into the market with the release of WiFi 7 routers (Access Point, AP) after the international standards are finalized in 2024. Compared to WiFi 6, WiFi 7 offers a speed improved for approximately 2.4 times, enhancing internet connectivity performance in public spaces where multiple users and devices connect simultaneously.
* WiFi data transmission speed: WiFi 4 and 5 (45Mbps-3.4Gbps), WiFi 6 and 6E (600Mpbs-9.6Gbps), WiFi 7 (up to 46Gbps in theory)
Additionally, high-bandwidth network will be proactively deployed by increasing the speed of underlying wired network infrastructure to about 10Gbps, enabling faster and more convenient public WiFi services.
Improving the interoperability with commercial WiFi for swift response to digital disasters
To enhance the response to communication outages due to disruptions inside both wired and wireless networks (above the level of "alert" when a crisis alert is issued), systematic improvement will be made to allow for automatic opening of and connection to commercial WiFi networks operated by the three major telecommunications providers. This measure is scheduled to be implemented until the first half of 2024, assuring citizens to seamlessly access data even during emergency situations.
Reallocating public WiFi resources with respect to data usage to improve efficiency
WiFi access points with low utilization rate due to facility closure and other reasons will be reallocated. Such decisions will be made through deliberations with local authorities, which shares the responsibility for operational costs. As a result, WiFi resources will be relocated to areas with high visitor traffic, such as libraries and markets, improving the operational efficiency and the quality of service.
Reinforcing management and response functions to promote stable operation of public WiFi
It is planned to establish a system that shortens the on-site dispatch time on emergency situations from the current 48 hours to within 24 hours, in order to minimize the inconveniences for users when public WiFi outages occur. Also, filing complaints will be available not only through calling the existing hotlines, but also via "public WiFi app," further reinforcing the convenience of citizens using public WiFi.
In his opening remarks at the event, Minister Lee Jong Ho stated that "Public WiFi infrastructure has been of practical help in alleviating the burden of communication expense for citizens through providing free data access. Simultaneously, MSIT has prioritized the safety and security of public WiFi," and conveyed the Ministry’s future plan to proactively support application of new technologies, such as WiFi 7, and additional construction of 10G wired network-based backhauls. He further stated, "With a strong focus on enhanced operation, management, and emergency response functions, we aim to ensure that all citizens can get reliable and convenient public WiFi service."
For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division (Phone: +82-44-202-4034, E-mail: email@example.com) of the Ministry of Science and ICT.
Please refer to the attached PDF.