National information infrastructure

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i. introduction

This report presents the results of a study of National Information Infrastructure (NII) in five countries: France, Japan, Korea, Singapore and the United States. It was conducted as a result of joint interest of Korea’s National Computerization Agency (NCA) and UCI’s Center for Research on Information Technology and Organization (CRITO) in better understanding of the current status of NII developments in various countries. This section presents the genesis of the study, the next section presents the country case studies, and the final section presents a cross-country comparison.


Several developed countries including Japan, Singapore and many European countries have announced their own information infrastructure programs following the NII (National Information Infrastructure) program of the United States which was initiated in 1993. In response to these initiatives, the Korean government has also taken action towards building its own information infrastructure in its KII (Korea Information Infrastructure) initiative. This initiative, which is expected to be implemented over a period of 15-20 years, will play a major role in the globalization of Korea’s business, government and institutional activities, and its economy.

In order to implement its plan, the Korean government has created a steering committee for the KII at the interministerial level. In addition, a subcommittee for coordination among participating ministries has been actively working toward the planning of Korea’s superhighway project. It is generally agreed in Korea that realizing the future information society primarily depends not only on how efficiently the highspeed communications networks are constructed, but on how effectively they are utilized.

Consequently, it was felt that a study should be conducted comparing the NII developments in selected countries in order to gain insights into how other countries are handling these issues. NCA staff noted that CRITO had been engaged in such comparative studies in the United States, and in selected countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, the NCA and CRITO decided to jointly conduct this study. It was further decided to engage country experts from each of the countries to work with the team wherever possible.


The study sought to describe and analyze the NII programs and their implementation strategies in France, Japan, Korea, Singapore and the United States from the perspective of what insights they might offer for Korea or for other countries having, or considering development of, such initiatives. It was hoped that the results of the study would contribute to improving the initiatives for building Korea’s national information infrastructure in particular.


The strategy used to conduct the study was to bring together experts from each country wherever possible, and to commission them to write a country case study. This was done in the case of France, Korea, Singapore and the United States. The Japan case was done by CRITO because of previous extensive work in Japan. The experts brought together were as follows:

Thierry Vedel, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

Kuk-Hwan Jeong, National Computerization Agency, Korea

Poh-Kam Wong, Center for Management of Technology, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Jason Dedrick, John Leslie King, Kenneth L. Kraemer, and Joel West, Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations, UC Irvine

In order to facilitate future comparison among the country case studies, a common framework was developed which was then used by the country experts to organize both the descriptive and analytical material they found. That framework, which is shown in more detail in the box at the end of this section, focused on seven major areas:



Strategy and policy design

Institutions and coordination

Implementation plans

NII services

Realities and prospects

Each of the country case studies in Section II has used this framework implicitly, if not always explicitly.

In January 1996, with the country papers having been completed and read by all, the study team convened in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a half-day of comment and critique of the case studies. This was followed by a half-day focused on comparison of the cases with the aim of identifying key cross-cutting findings, conclusions and issues. The results of this discussion and analysis are presented in Section III of this report.


(Example for the United States)


Deregulation of telecoms

Al Gore's father and interstate highways, Gore with NII

Desire to promote high technology industries


Original vision — single integrated network connecting home, work and school.

Gore's five principles

Emergent vision

Strategy and policy design

Let the private sector build the infrastructure and provide services

Government's to be a leading user of NII for service delivery

Deregulate telecoms to promote competition

Government to promote private uses through demonstration projects

Government to protect privacy, access, security and intellectual property

Institutions and coordination

Government: Congress, IITF (executive branch), Commerce Dept., Justice Dept. (anti-trust, IPR), ARPA, NSF, local governments, courts


Implementation plans

Telecommunications deregulation (bills in Congress)

Demonstration projects

Government use (e.g., reinventing government program)

Private sector implementation

America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy

Jockeying for position in the post-deregulation market

Mergers, acquisitions, alliances across sectors

Consolidation within sectors (e.g., cable)

Pilot projects, testbeds


NII services

E-mail: very widespread use

Bulletin boards, usenet groups, chat groups: widespread among on-line subscribers and internet users

Online publications, shopping: some use

Videoconferencing, video on demand, on-line banking: limited use, seen as large future markets

Realities and prospects

Where will demand be?

What conduits will be used?

What providers will be winners?

What will the cost be?

What kinds of paybacks will there be to companies and to society?

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