Faster broad­band by 2015

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SUNDAY NEWS - By SHEN JINGTING shen­jingt­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China in­tends to be thor­oughly con­nected to the in­ter­net by 2015, with ur­ban and ru­ral house­hold broad­band speeds reach­ing 20 Mbps and 4 Mbps re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to a blue­print is­sued by the State Coun­cil on Satur­day.

The “Broad­band China” strat­egy and im­ple­men­ta­tion plan was posted on the cen­tral govern­ment’s web­site on Satur­day. It out­lined the tar­get and timetable for China to be­come a leader in in­ter­na­tional broad­band ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

It sets out three plans for China to de­ploy and up­grade its cur­rent broad­band net­works.

By the end of this year, 40 per­cent of the coun­try’s house­holds will have ac­cess to fixed broad­band and 25 per­cent of Chi­nese cit­i­zens will be able to ac­cess third gen­er­a­tion (3G) or fourth gen­er­a­tion (4G) mo­bile broad­band ser­vices.

The na­tion’s broad­band pen­e­tra­tion rate will be greatly raised by 2015, when fixed broad­band cov­er­age of house­holds is ex­pected to in­crease to 50 per­cent, while mo­bile broad­band cov­er­age must sur­pass 32.5 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to tar­gets set by the State Coun­cil.

Un­der the strat­egy, the next few years will see op­ti­cal fiber to the home (FTTH), or to the build­ing (FTTB) com­pleted in cities by 2015.

Ur­ban house­hold broad­band speeds should reach 20 Mbps, with some get­ting even faster ser­vice of 100 Mbps. Ru­ral house­holds will have ac­cess to speeds of 4 Mbps.

By the tar­get year, China will have a fixed broad­band user base of 270 mil­lion and 850 mil­lion In­ter­net surfers.

The third stage of con­struc­tion will fol­low from 2016 to 2020. The State Coun­cil has stip­u­lated that the gap be­tween China’s broad­band in­fra­struc­ture level and that of de­vel­oped coun­tries must be nar­rowed, and broad­band speeds in ur­ban and ru­ral house­holds will need to reach 50 Mbps and 12 Mbps by 2020.

Broad­band net­works are strate­gic pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture un­der the new era of China’s eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to the pa­per. Broad­band projects will drive ef­fec­tive in­vest­ment and pro­mote in­for­ma­tion con­sump­tion, it pointed out.

The aver­age fixed broad­band down­load speed in China was 2.93 Mbps in the first half of this year, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the Broad­band De­vel­op­ment Al­liance, a third party re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, China’s broad­band de­vel­op­ment is at the mid­dle and lower lev­els across the world. The sit­u­a­tion does not match the coun­try’s po­si­tion as the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy,” said Fu Liang, a Bei­jing-based in­de­pen­dent tele­com an­a­lyst.

Com­pared with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries such as Ja­pan and South Korea, which em­pha­sized broad­band de­vel­op­ment and in­vested heav­ily in re­lated projects decades ago, China has been left far be­hind, he said.

Ja­pan and South Korea are al­ready of­fer­ing 4G mo­bile net­work com­mer­cial ser­vices while China started 3G net­work de­ploy­ment only four years ago and has yet to is­sue 4G li­censes.

Li Yizhong, for­mer min­is­ter of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, had pre­vi­ously said aver­age in­for­ma­tion and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion spend­ing per capita in China was un­der $200 ev­ery year, far less than that of de­vel­oped coun­tries, which stood at thou­sands of dollars a year.

How­ever, China’s cur­rent sit­u­a­tion also sig­ni­fies huge mar­ket po­ten­tial.

Ear­lier this week, the State Coun­cil said China aims to boost pub­lic sec­tor and house­hold spend­ing on the IT in­dus­try by more than 20 per­cent an­nu­ally through 2015.

By that year, the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan, in­for­ma­tion con­sump­tion vol­ume will ex­ceed 3.2 tril­lion yuan ($522 bil­lion) and cre­ate 1.2 tril­lion yuan worth of out­put for re­lated in­dus­tries.

China Tele­com Corp Ltd, the na­tion’s big­gest fixed broad­band op­er­a­tor, an­nounced this month that it would speed up broad­band ser­vices to 100 Mbps in some Chi­nese cities.

“If a house­hold gets ac­cess to net­works with a speed of 100Mbps, all fam­ily mem­bers will en­joy smooth, high-qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment on the In­ter­net, in­clud­ing on­line videos and games,” of­fi­cials at China Tele­com said.

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