Comcast is the fastest broadband provider in the U.S.

Comcast, the Philadelphia-based cable company, was the fastest broadband service provider in the U.S., according to Ookla, a broadband speed test company. In fact, Comcast and its cable industry peers trounced the phone companies when it came to download speeds.

Samsung won’t try to block iPhone 4S sales in South Korea

Samsung has surprisingly decided not to file for an injunction against Apple’s iPhone 4S in its home country of South Korea, it told major Korean newspaper The Chosunilbo on Monday. The decision comes after similar attempts are already underway in France, Italy, Australia and Japan.

Long lines for iPhone 4S launch in Hong Kong and Korea

Apple has been facing reports that it decreased orders to suppliers because of lackluster iPhone 4S demand, though some analysts disagree. The reaction to the launch of the 4S in 15 new markets on Friday, including Hong Kong, seems to contradict tales of flagging interest.

Today in Cleantech

South Korea plans to spend some $15.8 billion on its smart grid over the coming six years — and IBM wants to have part of that business. Big Blue announced this morning that it was working with a Korean consortium building a smart grid test bed on the island of Jeju, with the role of integrating intermittent power from wind turbines — as well as load-shedding capabilities and on-site generation sources at facilities like steel mills and chemical factories — into the grid at large. It’s a complicated task, and IBM is working with Korean IT integrator POSCO on the project, which in turn is working with other Jeju Island consortium members like LG, KEPCO, SK Telecom and Hyundai Heavy Industries. This isn’t IBM’s first island-based smart grid project, by the way — it’s also linking electric and water meters into an integrated system or the island nation of Malta.

Korea Raps Qualcomm on the Knuckles, Fines It $208M

[qi:105] South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) on Thursday fined Qualcomm (s QCOM) $208 million for anti-competitive behavior, putting an end to a 3-year investigation against the CDMA powerhouse. While the KFTC decided in favor of Qualcomm on two issues — multimedia integration and WCDMA — the commission said that the company was offering certain discounts to Korean handset manufacturers if they bought its modem chips. It was also charging higher royalties on its CDMA chips from its competitors. All that represented anti-competitive behavior, the KFTC said. Qualcomm had about 99.4 percent share of the Korean market in 2008. The San Diego-based chip giant is being investigated by the European Commission for anti-competitive behavior as well.

Qualcomm, which said in a press release this morning that it wants more details about how the fine was calculated, disagreed with the KFTC’s decision. It said it will fight both the fine and the ruling. Korea is home to two of the largest handset makers, LG and Samsung, both of which make CDMA phones for a variety of carriers. Qualcomm says its close strategic relationship with LG and Samsung helped them become major players in the handset business.

Lessons From South Korea’s Broadband Buildout for a U.S. Smart Grid Rollout

South Korea’s ability to use government funds to boost the country’s broadband industries has long been hailed as a savvy move that reinvented South Korean industry and identity as a country. Now the country that led the broadband revolution is looking to create a new market for smart grid technology, and lucky for us, is planning to share its best practices. This morning U.S. smart grid trade group the GridWise Alliance and the Korea Smart Grid Association (KGSA) have teamed up to share intelligence about building out smart grid technology.

The partnership raises a question in my mind: What lessons can companies and policy makers take from South Korea’s government-led broadband build-out and apply to the development of the smart grid in the U.S.? The rollout of broadband and cellular infrastructure is clearly different than building out the smart grid, but when companies and organizations are developing, testing and deploying network infrastructure, spurred by government funds, there are notable similarities. Here are a few:
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South Koreans Want Their Subway TV

Stacey’s words from a year ago are still true, “Mobile video has taken off in a few places such as South Korea and Japan, but for the most part, press releases outnumber the viewers.” Especially in the U.S., where mobile numbers continue to be mini. (Of course when you start talking 2013 the global market estimates skyrocket upward.) But our friends in Korea now seem to be having a different sort of mobile TV problem.

The Los Angeles Times wrote today that Koreans are freaking out because their access to mobile TV in subways may be taken away. Some 10 million Koreans watch TV on a special mobile portable frequency, with no extra fee to watch underground.

Cellular companies pay subway companies $250,000 per year to make use of “transmission network gap fillers” so their customers can watch TV on subways. Now, as part of efforts to cut costs, the mobile networks will probably drop subway service. “I’d feel really bad if it went away,” said 47-year-old homemaker Lee Suk-hee. One TV provider went so far as to say that the government should bail out subway TV.

By 2012 Koreans Will Get 1Gbps Broadband Connections

The Korea Communications Commission is working on plans that will boost broadband speeds in that country tenfold by the end of 2012. That means Koreans will access 1 Gbps service by 2012. That’s 200 times as fast as your typical 5 Mbps DSL connection sold in the U.S. At present, Koreans can get speeds of up to 100 Mbps from their broadband providers. Availability of such high-speed connections has allowed Korea to emerge as a leader in the MMO and online gaming industries. Even higher broadband speeds are going to unveil many new usage scenarios, which can lead to new company creation.

In addition to its wired broadband efforts, KCC expects wireless broadband to get a 10x speed bump to 10 Mbps vs. current speeds. KCC is promoting the homegrown WiBro standard as a way to boost speeds. It will re-allocate spectrum in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands with preference given to new operators and latecomers to the market. KCC wants to allocate the spectrum next year and hopes that services start in June 2011. IPTV is another area of focus for KCC.

The efforts are part of giving Korean IT infrastructure a boost, according to KCC. The plan is going to cost about $24.6 billion and will create 120,000 jobs. KCC was established because of the convergence of telecom, broadcast and broadband industries.We need our FCC to start thinking along those lines and make some drastic changes to get us to an ultrabroadband future . (Image Courtesy of JoongAng Daily.)