It's always dangerous to look at a snapshot of history and draw conclusions, but it sure looks today like South Korea is doing something right on broadband. With a mix of government spending, pro-competition regulatory policies, and an intense public focus on why broadband is important to the country, Korea has left the U.S. in the dust. More than seventy percent of Internet households there have broadband, making dial-up a relative rarity, and when they say broadband they're more likely to mean 8 mpbs to 20 mbps than our paltry DSL or cable speeds.
Of course, there are geographic reasons too Â– it's been a lot easier for fiber and VDSL connections to be run to the huge apartment buildings in dense cities like Seoul. But the villages have broadband too. We should think hard about that.
The third day of our broadband policy package notes that Korea's experience is not wholly translatable. But we should not be so arrogant as to think that we can't learn from them. If broadband is the future, then we need to start taking notes.