Seoul to offer free wifi in public areas

The South Korean metropolis of Seoul said on Wednesday it would offer free wifi in outdoor spaces in a $44 million project to give residents and visitors Internet access on every street corner.

Seoul will make its network available in 10,430 parks, streets and other public places by 2015, the city government said in a statement.

Demand for wifi is booming amid the rapid spread of smartphones and tablet computers but outdoor coverage in the South Korean capital has so far been limited.

"Wifi service is unavailable at 83 percent of outdoor areas in Seoul... but it soon will be available at every street corner of the city," the city government said.

Three local wireless operators will invest 47.7 billion won ($44 million) for the project.

All buses, subway trains and taxis in the city will be equipped to offer wireless Internet to passengers by the end of this year.

Telecommunication authorities say the world's most-wired country will have more than 20 million smartphone users by the end of this year out of a population of 48.6 million.

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