| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
① Recognizing the seriousness of the worsening information gap (January 2011)
The city government’s Information System Planning Bureau struggled with the increasing information gap in the city.
In January 2011, it concluded that the issue could not be solved through the local government’s efforts alone.
It embarked on marathon negotiations with Korea’s three mobile carriers on how to address the issue.
Following six months’ negotiations, they agreed on the set-up of a free WiFi service network which will make Seoul’s public WiFi network the highest-quality and most extensive in the world.
②MoU between the city government and three mobile carriers (June 2011)
On June 15, 2011, the city government and three mobile carriers signed an MoU on the set-up of a public WiFi service network in public locations throughout the city.
The MoU requires the city government to provide its own telecom network and the necessary facilities to the mobile carriers and the latter to set up and operate access points throughout the city.
③ Forming a task force team to facilitate the set-up of a public WiFi network (July 2011)
Following the execution of the MoU in June, the city government, district offices, and mobile carriers formed a task force team to facilitate the set-up of a public WiFi network in the city in July 2011. The team held numerous meetings to determine installation locations, conduct site surveys, figure out optimal installation and operation methods, and maximize budget savings.
④ Pilot projects launched in major public locations (October 2011)
In October 2011, the task force team launched pilot projects in some key locations in Seoul including 12 public buildings.
In December 2011, free public WiFi service was expanded to 36 locations with 327 additional access points.
⑤ Developing the “Seoul Public WiFi Emblem” (January 2012)
In January 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Government developed the “Seoul Public WiFi Emblem” and posted it in public WiFi service-supported areas. The emblem is instrumental in popularizing public WiFi service among citizens and visitors.
⑥ Another MoU with the mobile carriers to expand the service using their telecom networks (March 2012)
Public WiFi in Seoul became available on the city’s major streets, in traditional markets, in parks, and in tourist attractions through the city government’s own telecom network which connects CCTVs in 423 “dong” offices in 25 districts.
Still, new fiber-optic cables had to be installed outside the coverage area of the city government’s network. The city government could not afford it.
Following numerous negotiations, the city government and mobile carriers agreed on the use of the carriers’ telecom network. The agreement saved the municipal government a large amount of money.
Between 2011 and 2013, a total of 1,918 access points have been installed in 473 locations throughout the city - 327 in 36 locations in 2011, 730 in 149 locations in 2012, and 861 in 288 locations have been set up in 2013. Free public WiFi service is now available in almost 2,000 public places throughout the city. By the installatioin of 3,000 bus stations and 7,000 access points, more than 10,000 access points are expected to be installed in the year 2015.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
○ Information System Planning Bureau: planning and implementing public WiFi service in Seoul
The city government planned to improve citizens’ telecommunications welfare, improve Seoul’s competitiveness, and make Seoul the world’s leader in providing high-quality and extensive public WiFi access.
It asked the country’s three mobile carriers to take the initiative and set up wireless access points across the city for free public WiFi service.
The carriers were reluctant to accept the city government’s proposal because they had to invest considerably in upgrading their facilities for new 3G and LTE services.
Financially, setting up a single wireless access point costs a mobile carrier 3.8 million won (US$3,619) 3.5 million won (US$3,333) for installation and 300,000 won (US$286) for yearly maintenance. Assuming they agreed to install 600 access points a year, it would therefore cost them 2.28 billion won (US$2,171,400) every year.
The city government’s plan to build a city-wide public WiFi service network faced a serious challenge.
But as a result of the city government’s persistence, the carriers finally agreed to invest in the city’s public WiFi.
The officials of the bureau also worked hard to identify the best locations for WiFi service. They checked the locations recommended by citizens and 25 district offices, observed the volume of human traffic and residents’ current use of IT services, and closely monitored local situations in candidate locations.
○ Mobile carriers playing a key role in the establishment of the Seoul Public WiFi Network
Public WiFi service requires telecom cables connected to the Internet.
In areas where the city governments’ own telecom network is not connected, mobile carriers had to lay optical cables and install telecom equipment.
For areas already within the city government’s telecom network, the city government worked on the necessary connection; and mobile carriers installed access point equipment for the ultimate provision of public WiFi service in all areas.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
○ Financial resources - money saved by mobile carriers’ investments
Mobile carriers in the country are private companies pursuing profits by operating a wireless telecommunications network business. But they have struggled to secure wireless telecommunications networks in Seoul in a competition among themselves for more customers.
Through an agreement between the city government and the carriers, Seoul’s public WiFi service can use the carriers’ existing wireless telecom networks.
For areas where they have no wireless telecom networks, however, the carriers have to set up new telecom networks.
In addition, they agreed to pay for the maintenance of the public WiFi access points they set up.
The mobile carriers agreed to pay an average of 2.28 billion won (US$2,171,429) for the installation, operation, and maintenance on setting up about 600 WiFi access points a year.
○ Infrastructure resources - the city’s own networks combined with mobile carriers’ networks and facilities
Mobile carriers have installed and maintained wireless routers in areas where the city government’s own networks are available.
For areas where the networks are not available, mobile carriers have set up all the required telecommunications facilities and equipment to connect them to their own wireless telecom networks.
○ Human resources - city government’s officials and mobile carriers’ employees
ICT experts are needed to set up public WiFi and operate it effectively.
Experts in both the city government and the mobile carriers have joined forces to work out all the details of the project design through on-site investigations.
Afterward, they performed monitoring and repair work jointly for outdoor systems to make sure that the networks offered top-quality WiFi service at minimum cost to both the city government and carriers. They have worked hard with a commitment to deliver free WiFi service to the disadvantaged in society in particular.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
○ Developing public WiFi set-up and operational processes
- Collaboration in the set-up processes: The city government receives recommendations for priority locations for the set-up of public WiFi networks from citizens and 25 district offices.
City government officials have conducted on-site investigations with mobile carriers’ staff as well as officials of the relevant district offices. They have checked the volume of foot traffic, proportion of citizens not be able to use the Internet, and the expected impact of the initiative.
- Establishing persuasive objectives
First, the initiative is aimed at making Seoul the world’s leader by having the highest-quality and most extensive free public WiFi network in the world.
Second, the initiative is intended to provide free WiFi service to everyone in the city regardless of status or nationality.
○ Creating an effective WiFi emblem and developing the Smart Seoul Map
- The city government has created an effective Seoul WiFi emblem, which informs people of different linguistic backgrounds of the availability of public WiFi service simply yet effectively.
- The city government has also developed the Smart Seoul Map, which enables anyone hooked to the Internet to find free WiFi locations around him/her instantly.
○ Reducing municipal expenses and easing citizens’ telecom expense burden
The city government is planning to secure 10,000 public WiFi access points in the city by 2015 to reduce the telecom expenses paid by citizens and offer visitors free Internet access as well as boost the city’s competitiveness.
As of 2013, the city government has saved 7.2 billion won (US$6,941,333) in telecommunications expenses through the mobile carriers’ setting-up of the 1,918 access points. By 2015, it will have saved a total of 38 billion won (US$36,190,476) through the carriers’ setting-up of a total of
10,000 access points in the city.
Citizens can save 42 billion won (US$39,990,300) in telecom expenses a year or 70,000 won (US$69.5) per person a year assuming an average of 300 citizens access each of the 1,918 access points set up in 473 locations as of 2013 for about five minutes a day; the savings results from the fact that an Internet connection normally costs 200 won (around 20 cents) per 5~10 minutes in Korea.
By 2015, 10,000 access points will have been set up. Then, citizens’ personal savings in telecom expenses will reach 219 billion won (US$208,500,000) a year.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
○ Developing an integrated control system and the Smart Seoul map to ensure top-quality services
The city government has developed an integrated control system that indicates public WiFi locations on a digital map developed through a numerical map of the places. The system automatically identifies the locations and causes of any glitch through glitch indicators. It checks login records by setting up IP (Internet Protocol) values in the system when telecommunications services are obstructed. The system ensures a quick response to problems.
The city government has also developed the Smart Seoul Map App so that smartphone users can easily get information on the availability of public WiFi service in the city.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
○ Reluctance of mobile carriers due to the anticipated high set-up costs
A single access point costs 3.8 million won (US$3,619) in installation and maintenance costs for one year. Therefore, installing 600 access points costs mobile carriers 2.28 billion won (US$2,171,429) a year.
Initially, mobile carriers were reluctant to cooperate with the city government due to the high costs they had to bear.
○ Success in persuading mobile carriers through continuous efforts
The city government succeeded in persuading the mobile carriers (SKT, LGU+, and KT) to make joint investments in the initiative. It emphasized the values of working together toward improvements in telecommunications welfare for the disadvantaged in the city and the enhancement of the city’s global competitiveness by providing an increasing number of local and overseas visitors with free Internet access. The mobile carriers eventually agreed to collaborate and signed an MoU on the set-up of free public WiFi networks in the city.