Soyoung Ahn (Yonsei University BarunICT Research Center)

The Yonsei University Barun ICT Research Center strives to empirically analyze PC/mobile platform usage behavior using demographic data on gender, age, region, occupation, income, level of education, and marital status from various angles. The following research provides objective, in-depth information on important social issues relevant to ICT use, such as alienation from information, the digital divide, and smartphone addiction. All of the studies were based on data sets constructed by the Barun ICT Research Center.


• Mobile internet usage time per week in the Seoul Capital Area is an average of 2 hours and 18 minutes longer than other regions in Korea
• The regional digital divide occurs from differences in Wi-Fi zone installation


Regional Wi-Fi conditions have been found to have a significant influence on mobile internet usage via smartphones. A comparative analysis of mobile internet usage for users of the same age based on their region showed that numerically, there is higher mobile internet usage in regions with a greater number of Wi-Fi zones per square kilometer. Although there has been speculation suggesting that there is more mobile internet usage in regions with many Wi-Fi zones, this is the first confirmation
with data.


To be specific, one additional Wi-Fi zone per square kilometer increased the weekly mobile internet usage time by an average of 3 minutes. Although PC internet usage was also influenced by the number of Wi-Fi zones per square kilometer—usage time increased by an average of 28 seconds—Wi-Fi conditions had a greater influence on mobile usage.


In the Seoul Capital Area (Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi region) where access to Wi-Fi usage is easier, average weekly usage time (31 hours 16 minutes) was 2 hours and 18 minutes longer than other regions (28 hours 58 minutes). The number of Wi-Fi zones per square kilometer was greatest  in Seoul at 100, followed by Busan at 21, and Gwangju at 20. On the other hand, Gyeongbuk had 0.49, Jeonnam had 0.39, and Gangwon had 0.32 Wi-Fi zones per square kilometer. The significant regional difference in the number of Wi-Fi zones suggests a regional digital divide may arise. Therefore, policies on Wi-Fi zones are required, which are not simply focused on profitability but also consider regional concentrations.

Meanwhile, mobile usage time in Sejong and Ulsan was comparatively high. While there is not a large number of Wi-Fi zones per square kilometer, the average age of survey participants there was the lowest in the nation at 37.6 years.


For this study, the Yonsei University Barun ICT Research Center analyzed 6,090 people across the country from June 27 to October 2 in 2016. “Current Situation of Wi-Fi zone Installation Based on Population in Each Region” by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and “Area of Regions” by the National Statistical Office (2013) were referred to.


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