Asia’s Internet goes to warp speed

100 Yen netbooks in Japan. Photo: Steve Nagata / Flickr Creative Commons

100 Yen netbooks (w/ 2-year contract) in Japan. Photo: Steve Nagata / Flickr Creative Commons

Blazing-fast Internet has become commonplace in Asia. Japan and South Korea frequently rank as the most wired countries in the world.  Singapore is looking to boost its broadband infrastructure too, according to this NY Times article: Singapore gets wired for speed.

John, an Australian expat friend of mine, just moved into a new apartment near Tokyo. When John got Internet installed, he settled for a 200 megabit per second connection. There was a waiting list for the 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits) connection, he explained.

How much does it cost?  According to the article, one company in Singapore plans to sell 100 mbps connections for SGD$21 (US$15) per month. In Hong Kong, a 1 gigabit connection costs HKD$200 (US$26) per month.  Meanwhile, my local ISP provider in the states offers a “high speed” 8 mbps connection for a whopping US$50 per month.

For a good case study of how a country builds such an Internet infrastructure, check out this CNN article: Why Internet connections are fastest in South Korea. A lot of ideas get discussed, such as whether the private sector or government should lead the way, the role of competition, etc.

There is a downside to having fast, cheap Internet, however. Some people might succumb to the temptation to spend too much of their lives online and become antisocial. Another NY Times article highlights an extreme case: South Korea expands aid for Internet addiction. In a less serious fashion, as more backpackers bring along laptops and netbooks, they could spend more time surfing the web than seeing the country they’re in.

To broaden the scope beyond broadband, have you ever encountered better infrastructure abroad than at home? For example, some of my American friends envy Europe’s trains and Asia’s airports. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | June 18, 2010
Category: Asia, Travel News, Travel Tech

2 Responses to “Asia’s Internet goes to warp speed”

  1. brian Says:

    It doesn’t really matter much to me the speed of my connection. I don’t do that much online anyway. As for surfing on my vacation, a simple wifi connection for my Ipod Touch is suffecient to answer emails, use Skype, and update Facebook. If you spend all your time surfing, why leave home? Those who practice geoarbitage ala Timothy Ferris would be thrilled, however.

  2. john Says:


    >It doesn’t really matter much to me the speed of my connection. I don’t do that much online anyway.

    Those two statements are more closely connected than you probably realize. If you had a faster connection you’d probably do a lot more online – which can increase “the temptation to spend too much of your life online and become antisocial” that Marcus refers to. But, as someone that works online, the faster the better.