Inter-Korean Communication Link will be Upgraded with Fiber Optic Cables

Political conflicts apart, the two Koreas has agreed to improve on the communication network, which is believed to be a great step toward peace and harmony in the peninsula. In a landmark agreement, the two Koreas will start reconstruction of the existing copper communication links by upgrading them to fiber optic links.

The agreement made by South and North Korea will see the replacement of old inter-Korean communication lines with the high-speed fiber optic cables. Once the copper-wire cables are replaced with fiber optics, the conventional media of fax and telephones calls will be augmented by video chats.

On Nov. 23, the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced that an inter-Korean agreement was made during working-level talks at the joint liaison office in Kaesong to cooperate on replacing old communication lines with fiber optic cables. Chung Chang-rim, a senior MSIT official, led the talks’ South Korean delegation; while his North Korean counterpart was Ri Yong-min, a senior official in North’s communications affairs.

The Koreas so far have been using the telephone and fax-like communication channels when they want to arrange talks and exchange messages. But those channels have been often suspended when tensions rose over North Korea’s nuclear program. The rival Koreas on Friday launched their first liaison office near their tense border to facilitate better communication and exchanges ahead of their leaders’ summit in Pyongyang next week.

Due to the isolation policies adopted by North Korean regimes, the country has not been fully connected to the internet technology. After an agreement with UNDP, Pyongyang Fiber Optic Cable Factory was built in April 1992. North Korea’s first optical fiber cable network spanning around 300 kilometers was installed in 1995. Kim Jong’s nationwide land leveling and rezoning campaign in Kangwon province in May 1998 and in North Pyongan province in January 2000 paved the path for the construction of fiber optic lines. Korean People’s Army soldiers were involved in the deployment.

South Korea, on the other hand, has one of the most advanced telecommunication systems built over fiber optic technology. South Korea is home to well-known fiber optic product manufacturers and is well connected with the rest of the world through submarine fiber optic cables. South Korea is one of the top ten countries ranked by the FTTH Council for the percentage of homes connected by the fiber optic cables.

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