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Usage-rate System Under Fire

According to newspaper reports, Internet companies are due to execute the usage-rate system. The companies are condemned by netizen concerned about the issue. They hurriedly announced that it was just a rumor, but then revealed it was true. The case is under government examination now. Prior to  the examination , we need to know about the system.
What when the usage-rate system begins? What changes will come................................Ed.

  Internet Korea
  Korea is evaluated as a advanced Internet nation.  We can see this through Chart 1. The number of Internet users is increasing every year. More than one out of every two households Internet service. According to the Korea Network Information System, each household spends on average 32,800 won every month. Out of 10 OECD nations,  Korea Internet expense is the highest and equal with Sweden.  And under the new education policy_ new EBS TV lectures for high school students_ the number of Internet users will be increased.
  Flat Sum System VS Meter-rate System
  Internet companies have a flat sum system now. Consumers pay a regular charge and get unlimited service.
But private companies are promoting a new meter-rate system. Users will pay each time they use the system and for packet capacity. Netizen want to see behind the curtains. But the companies are evasive about their position on the issues. As matters stand now, an unfounded charge list makes the netizen even more puzzled. Netizen blame the companies.
Company officers said, "The rumor is just rumor. We don't have any definite plan." But the users insist "Where there's smoke, there's fire." According to the KISDI's research, fifty-four percent of netizen want the current system. Thirty-three percent approved a partial introduction of the meter-rate system. Only eight percent want the new meter-rate system.
As we see, netizen raise objections about the new system. There are just one-sided opinions on many web bulletin boards, too. But for a better future, we need to examine the merits and demerits of the new system. 
  Good Points of the Meter-rate System
  Internet companies insist that introduction of the new system will bring forth many good effects.
  -Service Improvement
"To develop our Internet service, invest more funds is unavoidable. Onse Telecom, Thrunet and other companies underwent management crisis due to lack of returns and severe competition," a KT officer said. (Segye Ilbo, 2004-05-04)
  -Countermeasure for Defrayable Formation Problem 
Considering the existing payment formation, minor users endure by major users' assist. The top five percent of users used 40 percent of total used time and 20 percent of users used 72 percent of total time. If the new system is introduced, it will change the current abnormal structure.
-Systemic Access to Internet Abuse
As the Internet spreads, many problems have arose with it. The companies try to solve these problem through using the new imposed method. The supporters insist the usage-rate system can prevent Internet addiction and the spam problem. They point out that the new system has good points such as reducing the frivolous use of the Internet.
  -Information Technology (IT) Development
The existing flat-sum system imposes the same fee every month. So the process of expense imposition is very easy. Even some specialists forecast IT business' progress by the complicated imposition system. Besides, compression technology is expected to grow with the new system's introduction.
  Bad Points of the Meter-rate System
  -NEW TRAP for Their Profits
The number of Internet users is increasing rapidly. Developed information industry and industrial structural change lead this trend's advance. In addition, enforcement of EBS lectures will accelerate the increase. That is why, netizen see the new system as just for companies' profit. This sort of criticism is hard to avoid.
  -Decrease of Internet Usage
  There also exist wireless Internet merits, because the number of the users is few. According to  a recent report, wireless Internet users tend to use the Internet one time per 5.3 days. The expensive packet-rate system is a burden to these kinds of users. Thus, introduction of the new Internet system will likely decrease Internet usage.
  - Information Disproportion
  The existing flat-system contributes to narrowing the usage gap between the rich and the poor. The packet-rate and time-rate systems, will be more of a burden for the poor than the rich. Prior to introducing the new system, companies have to present a plan to solve this gap in wealth.
-Weakening of IT Industry
 Internet business' advance also means Internet contents industry's advance.  Content and related service charges started two years ago in Korea. Whenever users download content by wireless Internet, they pay an additional fee. The usage-rate system, presents some difficulties for the wireless content industry. If the new system is introduced, Korea's position will be weakened in the IT Industry. We can expect the decline of Internet Shopping, Game Industry and Web Portal.
  Concluding Remarks
We examined two Internet systems. Both systems have merits and demerits. After considering both sides, the government has to settle on a desirable system. 

 

Park Nu-ri  nuly1221@dongguk.edu

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