Follows on Heels of Other High-Tech Victories in
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 market.
"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 Asian market."
"Telecom is an integral part of the infrastructure of the modern
global economy, and U.S. 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
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
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.