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HOME > Useful Information > Travel Tips > Phone calls/Internet

Public phone

As of 2004, there were 2,814 post offices operating throughout the country, with each myeon (a group of several villages) being served by one or more post offices. In 2004, the mail volume totaled 4,975 million items. Most letters were delivered within three working days, except in some remote areas.

The speed and efficiency of the mail delivery process has greatly improved since the introduction of the first computerized mail centers in 1990. As of 2002, twenty two mail centers were equipped with the latest automated letter and parcel sorting machines. Plans are under way to build another 3 mail centers nationwide by 2006.

A total of 2,814 post offices provide not only postal services but also various financial services such as deposit, remittance and life insurance services. To meet the increasing needs of customers, Korea Post has been introducing various new services including Flower Delivery Service, e-Post, Mail Order Services, Computer Mail Services, etc.

To meet the fast changing business environment, Korea Post was reorganized as an independent governmental agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and Communication in July 2000. The new organization, the Office of Postal Service has attained a greater degree of autonomy and is now responsible for its own structure, budget, and operations.
The number of cellular phones and PCS users has been increasing.

Telephone and Mobile Communication Services

30-kilometer telegraph line from Seoul to the west coast city of Incheon, completed in September 1885, marked the first modern communications service in Korea. This service gradually replaced signal fires, which had been the major means of communication over extended distances.

An adequate infrastructure for modern communications, however, was not envisioned until 1962 under the Five-Year Telecommunications Plan. Up until the 1980s, though, the importance of communications to a modern society was not fully appreciated. As of the end of 1979, there were only some 240,000 telephone subscribers, about 6.3 telephones per 100 people.

In 1982, the government set up Korea Telecom to take over the telephone and telegraph business from the Ministry of Communications. A result of active R&D investment, in 1986, enabled Korea to become the 10th nation in the world to develop an electronic switching system, known as TDX-1. With this technology, Korea has provided an additional one million circuits annually.

The number of telephone lines in Korea exceeded 10 million in 1987, with virtually every household having a telephone. International Subscriber Dialing (ISD) services also have been available since then. As of the end of 2003, the number of telephone lines reached 25.800 million with subscribers totaling 22.87 million. The number of telephones per 100 persons has increased to 47.7, and all telephone circuits are now connected by automatic switching systems.

After Mobile communications service began in Korea in 1984 and the number of cellular phone users gradually increased in the 1980s. Since 1990 the speed of increasement on the users has become much faster and the total subscribers stood at 33.59 million as of the end of 2003. Along with the increasement of subscriber numbers, the mobile communication service that had simply offered voice or message transmission services evolved to provide data, wireless internet and video streaming services in earnest.

Korea launched CDMA2000-1x commercial services that enabled multimedia service for the first time in the world in Oct 2000, and started CDMA2000-1x EV DO service that makes available full-fledged 3G mobile communication services including video streaming in Jan 2002.

As of the end of Jan. 2005, mobile subscribers for CDMA2000-1x amounted to 33 million, accounting for 51.1% of the total cellular phone users, and the number of its subscribers is expected to steadily grow.

As for 2GHz IMT-2000 service, three local operators were granted with a license, and they greatly contributed to earning the nation greater recognition as IT Korea by showcasing and providing trial services during the opening ceremony and football matches of the 2002 Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup. 2GHz IMT-2000 service based on W-CDMA technology was deployed in the second half of 2003.

Computer-Related Communications

With the rapid development of the IT industry and the explosive proliferation of computers, more and more Koreans are using computer-related communications ­ on-line services and the Internet.

The number of on-line service subscribers increased from 718,000 in 1995 to 15.6 million in 2003, while the number of Internet users soared from 366,000 to 28.6 million during the same period.

In recognition of the ever-increasing need for building a networked society to prepare for the coming information age, the government launched its plan to build an information super-highway in 1995.
Website of the Korean Overseas Information Service (http://www.korea.net)

The first stage of the plan was completed in 1997, and the second stage was completed at the end of 2000. A high-speed and high-quality optical transmission network of 155 Mbps-40 Gbps has been established in 144 cities. A commercial ATM network was constructed by installing 361 ATM switches and connecting the access equipment of 198 subscribers to major cities across the nation.

With the successful implementation of the plan, Korea now possesses a high-speed network infrastructure that offers high-quality data services nationwide, positioning the nation as one of the world’s 10 most advanced countries in terms of information networks.

Broadband internet service was first introduced in Korea in July 1998 when Korea Thrunet rolled out the service using cable modem. Afterwards, broadband internet has shown drastic growth backed by new broadband services such as ADSL, VDSL and the government's promotion policy as it can be seen broadband subscribers exceeding 10 million. Based on such an astounding achievement, the ITU and OECD recognized Korea as number one country worldwide in terms of broadband penetration and utilization.

Down the road, broadband Internet appears to see continuous growth in the number of users thanks to a wide arrange of services to be offered through the expansion of broadband networks. And ultimately this will lead to enhance quality of life of people.

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