23 April 2004
U.S., South Korea Resolve Dispute Over Wireless Internet Technology
USTR April 23 news release
The United States and the Republic of Korea have resolved a long-standing
trade dispute that threatened to shut U.S. firms out of the Korean
telecommunications market, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert
B. Zoellick announced in an April 23 news release.
According to the news release, the dispute with Korea arose more
than two years ago when the U.S. government learned the Korean
government had launched the development of the "Wireless Internet
Platform for Interoperability (WIPI)."
"As originally envisioned, WIPI would have been the exclusive
technology for downloading content from the Internet onto cell
phones, thereby shutting out competing systems, including a U.S.
system that already had over seven million Korean subscribers and
is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars over the
next five years," the USTR said.
"Based on the deal we reached with Korea," the USTR
said, "American telecommunications companies can now be assured
of unimpeded access to this important market."
Following is the text of the USTR news release:
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Executive Office of the President
USTR Press Releases are available on the USTR website at www.ustr.gov.
For Immediate Release: April 23, 2004
Contact: Richard Mills/Neena Moorjani (202) 395-3230
U.S. and Korea Resolve Major Trade Dispute in Telecom Sector
Follows on Heels of Other High Tech Victories in Asia
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick announced
today that, after intensive negotiations, the United States and
Korea resolved a long-standing trade dispute that threatened to
shut U.S. firms out of an important part of the Korean telecommunications
"This week marks a number of key trade successes for the
United States high tech industry," said Zoellick. "China
took a significant step in embracing technology neutrality in its
telecom policy. Based on the deal we reached with Korea, American
telecommunications companies can now be assured of unimpeded access
to this important market. American businesses and workers will
continue to provide cutting-edge products and services to the growing
"Telecom is an integral part of the infrastructure of the
modern global economy, and US workers and businesses lead the way
in products and services. It's wrong for countries to mandate exclusive
standards that have the effect of shutting us out," said Zoellick. "The
United States will continue to aggressively seek resolution of
this and other similar issues throughout Asia and the world."
The dispute with Korea arose more than two years ago when the
United States Government learned that the Korean Government had
launched the development of the "Wireless Internet Platform
for Interoperability" (WIPI) which it intended to promulgate
as a mandatory standard in the Korean market. As originally envisioned,
WIPI would have been the exclusive technology for downloading content
from the Internet onto cell phones, thereby shutting out competing
systems, including a U.S. system that already had over seven million
Korean subscribers and is expected to generate hundreds of millions
of dollars over the next five years.
The United States and Korea have now agreed to ensure that competing
U.S. systems can continue to operate and grow in this important
market. Resolution of the issue comes after a series of bilateral
consultations and meetings between senior officials in Washington
and Seoul that have been intensified over the last several months.
This success comes on the heels of the decision by the Chinese
government this week to delay indefinitely an exclusive wireless
networking standard (WAPI encryption standard proposal), to engage
with international standards-setting bodies on wireless issues,
and to adopt a policy of technology neutrality for licensing new
cellular services ("3G" services).
Looking ahead, the U.S. Government hopes that resolution of this
issue can provide momentum for resolution of another telecommunications
standards issue of importance to U.S. companies, namely Korea's
plan to mandate an exclusive domestic transmission standard for
a new service - portable broadband wireless internet. The U.S.
Government is a strong proponent of the principle that telecommunications
carriers should have maximum flexibility in the technology they
choose, unencumbered by government interference.
The issues addressed this week relate to technology standards
employed in the wireless equipment and services.
WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) is a standard
developed in Korea designed to enable cellular phone customers
to download software applications (games, productivity tools, e-mail
programs) onto their cell phones. WIPI is a new technology that
competes with several other established software platforms.
WAPI is an encryption standard developed in China designed to
make wireless local networks (e.g. WiFI "hotspots") more
secure for users. International standards organizations are working
to develop an open standard to address security issues relating
to wireless local area networks.
3G (third-generation) mobile services are cellular services designed
for both voice and high-speed data transmission, enabling users
to access services such as the Internet from a cell phone or laptop,
in a mobile environment. There are several competing standards
that are considered 3G.