All wired up and no place to go

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All wired up and no place to go

High-speed Internet service providers will do almost anything to convince customers to subscribe to their service. Companies usually are overjoyed when they receive phone calls from customers who say they want to set up Internet connection. But in the case of adult PC rooms, it’s the other way around ― operators of the Internet cafes say it’s nigh impossible to find a service provider that will happily set up a broadband connection.
Adult PC rooms are similar to regular PC rooms, which are large “rooms” lined with desks equipped with personal computers; the desks are usually separated by thin partitions. Adult PC rooms usually admit only adult men.
Currently, the telecommunications companies KT, Hanaro Telecom, Dacom, and Powercomm offer fixed-line broadband services; cable television service providers also offer customers high-speed Internet services.
According to a spokesman at KT, Korea’s largest Internet service provider, one of the reasons the business is hesitant to provide services for adult Internet cafes is because some adult PC rooms illegally operate online gambling or facilitate prostitution and and can become subjects of police investigations.
“During the investigation, the police confiscate all the equipment and the owner of the business doesn’t pay the bills,” the spokesman said. Internet service providers usually lease equipment required for high-speed Internet connection to operations for the duration of their broadband subscription.
Companies are also concerned that providing services to those sort of businesses will give them a bad image. Even mobile service providers, who deal in a different medium, have been having a hard time responding to criticism that they facilitate adult content. Last month, the mobile service providers, the Information Ministry and civic groups decided to take stricter measures to block adult mobile content, such as video clips and erotic stories, from being seen by young users.
An industry insider, however, admitted that avoiding business with adult PC rooms has more to do with profits than with ethics.
“Internet service providers are afraid that their equipment will get damaged and that they will lose money by dealing with PC room operators,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not the business that goes on in PC rooms is unethical.”

by Wohn Dong-hee
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