Korea has often been named as one of the most connected countries on Earth, and is mentioned in surveys and news articles that it has the fastest broadband speeds on the planet. This is true to an extent, but the plethora of problems that plague the Korean 'intranet' often go unmentioned in these articles. One of them is the reliance on ancient software practices and outdated Active X plugins which usually only work properly on Internet Explorer (with the built-in security and popup blocks lowered or disabled). These are used to secure connections with banking, internet shopping, government sites, etc. Using the Korean immigration website for example is like stepping back into the 90's and you can often find yourself stuck in a loop of having to refresh pages when entering details. Where Korean hardware excels, the software side of things is a grim situation. Things are changing gradually, but that's not what my beef is today.
Over the past few years I've been subject to the various intricacies of Korean Internet service providers. LG, SK, KT and the most recent is Hyundai. Most of them are fairly good at what they do - And the Internet within Korea is the perfect example of an infrastructure that provides excellent service throughout the country to it's citizens. 3G, 4G, 5G, ZillionG or whatever works better than any other country I've visited - And the good ole fashioned wired Internet is unmatched in speed and reliability. BUT.. and this is a huge but... the net neutrality in Korea is a bit murky. What we have is a dedicated intranet, not an internet, and trying to use the outside Internet is becoming increasingly difficult on my ISP, Hyundai Telecom. Now I am actually tied to this service because it comes with the apartment but I believe this issue is prevalent throughout Korean ISPs to lesser extremes, perhaps.
This has nothing to do with undersea cables, it's just about the ISP being a c**t about bandwidth.
Speedtest is an excellent way to test your Internet speed. This gives you a fairly good indication of what bandwidth you're getting.
But when net neutrality comes into play, what you're seeing is falsified statistics made to look Korea look good on the world stage.
This is what Speedtest shows me when doing a test on a Seoul based server:
Wow, fantastic. Maxed out both downstream and upstream. I could probably even get 300mbit or more if the cables in the building were newer (cat cables are used here in place of traditional phone lines).
You'd think looking at this that I have nothing to worry about it. Guess again. Here is what happens when I take my test across the ocean to Japan, China or any nearby city outside of Korea.
Keep in mind these aren't astronomical distances we're talking about here. London to Berlin isn't much different than Seoul to Tokyo in terms of distance. I can easily get 50mbit with 20-30 ping in those conditions.
But with Hyundai telecom... Here is the speedtest result when connecting to Japan:
Ouch, that's a pretty big drop in performance, no? Less than 1 mbit. So if I want to access websites based overseas, these are the speeds I'm actually getting.
And for me, that is pretty much every website I visit. Now there are some exceptions to this, such as cloudcached services Google, Youtube, etc.
But even they are subject to restrictions. For example, if you are a fan of a famous Youtuber, then you're golden - You'll be able to stream their content in 4k no problem.
But if you like to watch someone that doesn't have millions of fans, you might be in for a long buffering time... And it gets even worse for streaming services like Twitch.
And for some reason only 'parts' of Google are good speeds such as search results, general tasks. Google drive for example is painfully slow.
Now if I want to connect to a server that's in America, it's a similar story, just with a higher ping time and further reduced upstream.
For Europe it's even worse. I couldn't even get a response to many European servers. Here is my attempt to test London:
That's not a screenshot taken mid test. That is where it stopped working, and stops working every time.
The connection is basically cut off (and this is something I've experienced when downloading from various servers where the download just fails mid-way)
Up until recently I've had to use VPNs to get around this throttling. Using a VPN has enabled me to get 20-30, sometimes even as high as 50mbit when downloading.
But unfortunately it's hit and miss, with the VPN sometimes stalling or having the same bandwidth issues. For the past week or two, I've been unable to use the VPN because the speed is insanely slow.
I don't know how or why that is, and no amount of trying different servers or connection modes has helped.
So here I am, stuck with Internet that has been throttled into oblivion, unable to even download a file from my own server without waiting an age. It's not all bad - Torrents are for some reason unthrottled, and certain connection types such as FTP seem to run fairly fast in short bursts. Transfers start as high speed, then as if someone flicked a switch, begins throttling back into oblivion.
And before you ask, no this isn't a hardware issue. I know this because my ISP seems to have gradual throttling throughout the day, up until the evening where nearly everything except for Korean sites become unusable. So at 4, 5, 6am in the morning I can get a good speed, but after 7am it's 50% throttled, 8am 90% throttled, etc. By about early evening it's 99% throttled. I've never seen this kind of bullshit in the UK, which historically has some of the worst ISPs in Europe. Never would I have imagined that I'd be saying 'BT Internet' is better than a Korean ISP. But that day has arrived, holy s###.
I mean, it's not China, but for a country with supposedly the fastest Internet in the world, these are some sh###y practices.
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