South Korea announced a massive undertaking on Wednesday: 5G internet for the entire country by 2020, according to Mashable. 5G is 1,000 times faster than 4G, and for most intents and purposes, would be instantaneous. Want to download every Star Wars movie? Boom. They’re on your computer in seconds—the speed it currently takes Americans to download a podcast.
South Korea’s Ministry of Science, Education and Technology (MEST) plans to work with providers, such as SK Telecom and Korea Telecom to achieve a trial program in 2017 and countrywide 5G three years later.
The most notable detail in all of this is the expected price tag: $1.5 billion (1.6 trillion won).
Think about that for a second. That’s roughly one two-thousandth of the U.S. budget. South Korea has the advantage of being a dense nation, and perhaps the price estimate is low, but it’s still remarkable that a nation of 50 million people can claim they will provide blazing internet speed to all of their citizens in six years for what amounts to pocket change in the U.S.
On top of that, if the U.S. managed to raise the bar across the board for all internet users, it would help mitigate a potentially disastrous decision by a D.C. Appeals Court Judge to strike down net neutrality (meaning that providers like Verizon and Comcast can start to charge extra to companies that want their sites to load more quickly).
In fact, a faster network would allow the U.S. to stay competitive going forward, it would be a boon to online businesses of all stripes, and the infrastructure required to put it in would create jobs in the short term.
In short, the U.S. undertaking a project like this is a policy no-brainer and a political non-starter, and that sums up a lot of what’s wrong in the U.S. right now.