저작권자 © Korea IT Times 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
Possession of original technologies is key to competitiveness in world markets In his New Year's address, President Roh Moo-hyun stressed the nation should be confident, as "Korea is a dynamic nation whose people have acted up to its potential." As President Roh has said, Korea is undoubtedly a dynamic country that has a proud history of immense progress in various fields. In the IT field, in particular, the nation has taken giant strides in such fields as and with respect to semiconductors, TFT-LCDs, Internet accessibility, and Internet users' fascination with Cyberspace, making Korea ranked tops in a recent survey for the UN's "Digital Opportunity Index." Furthermore, the nation has recently achieved a milestone of breaking the $100 billion mark in the annual export of electric goods. Aside from these, the recent adoption of the mobile Internet WiBro by the IEEE 802.16 committee as the mobile version of WiMax is much anticipated to drive the nation down an even more dynamic road in 2006 following the commercialization of DMB service and mobile television. On the corporate side, too, there are plentiful cases of bright prospects. Samsung Electronics, for instance, has teamed up with TV operator Omnivision to deploy the mobile WiMAX service in Venezuela. The agreement, which was signed on December 16, 2005, will see the first WiMAX deployments being rolled out in the city of Caracas during the third quarter of 2006, and six other cities by the end of 2009. Field trials for the mobile Internet are also under way in a number of regions including the United States, Japan and South America. All these developments are in a way sufficient for the nation to proclaim that it has stepped ahead of others in commercializing the technology, a testimony showing the nation's emergence as a tech leader in a market which, according to Samsung Electronics, is forecast to grow to $4.2 billion in 2010, compared with $500 million this year. Likewise, the IT industry, which accounts for about 15% of the nation's GDP and 30% of exports, has played a key role in placing the nation as the 11th largest trading economy in the world. In the case of mobile phones, in particular, Korea has made conspicuous headway as can be seen by Korean mobile phone manufacturers vying for a top place in the global market, where already one out of four mobile phones are now Koreanmade ones. Behind all the dazzling figures, however, is the 1.4 trillion won Korea had to pay in royalties to QUALCOMM for the past three years. QUALCOMM's stature in the CDMA field is so solid, industry watchers say, that its prowess in the WCDMA field, too, will persist for years. The holding of an upper hand in the tech world through standards, thus, signifies an enormous power in the global market. As a matter of fact, it has become a fact of life in the IT field that the opportunity to take part in the making of global standards is not given to any country or company that does not possess a technological prowess. Accordingly, the making of global standards for information technologies is led by developed nations that possess most of the original technologies. Since original technologies are those that form the basis of numerous branches of commercialized ones, the situation is such that it becomes hard for latecomers to rid themselves of the technological veils shadowed by developed nations. The gap in the competitive strengths between the two can easily widen under the burden of billing for royalties. Moreover, if the situation develops to such a stage where it becomes compulsory to use only the technologies recognized as global standards, the developing nations, as well as the underdeveloped, would incur greater burdens of paying the enormous sums of royalties. In order to break the vicious cycle, it is necessary to have comprehensive development models linking the overseas marketing of information technologies with the activities related to bring about global standards. Above all, this is necessary not just for the sake of a nation's economic growth but also for the sake of technological advancement that could be made through competition on the global level as a whole. It is true that Korea has for some time seen quite a number of achievements made with regard to global standards. Nevertheless, things are not so amicable for people in the IT world to sit idly by. Almost all the tools of civilization today are in the process of converging with information technologies, such as the combination of voice with data, the integration of wireless with fixed lines, the convergence between broadcasting with telecom, and the coupling of IT with home electronic products. Moreover, the world has become and continues to be intertwined through the Internet, thus placing the government and various institutions, and companies engaged in international operations on a platform more global than ever before. Undoubtedly, times have also been demanding them to display wisdom to focus in key areas and make concerted efforts for Korean firms' venturing out beyond the nation's borders and for making global standards through which the nation can claim to be truly dynamic when it comes to making contributions for the benefit of all.