China must speed the development of the latest version of its Internet protocol and applications to catch up with the United States, Japan and other prominent economies, industry experts said on Tuesday.
The latest version, Internet Protocol version 6, was devised to provide more Web addresses and a safer network. It will replace the country's current Internet Protocol version 4, which is quickly running out of addresses.
"Chinese carriers such as China Mobile and China Unicom must work hard to develop the IPv6 network", said Latif Ladid, president of an IPv6 forum that was held in Beijing on Tuesday.
Ladid said China should place greater emphasis on new technology if it is to keep up with Internet developments in other countries.
By the end of last year, Premier Wen Jiabao was calling for the country to put an IPv6 network into commercial use on a small scale in 2013, and then extend and commercialize the network on a large scale between 2014 and 2015, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council.
"The development of IPv6 is one of the most important tasks for China's Internet industry during the 12th Five-Year Plan period, from 2011 to 2015," Hu Qiheng, director general of the Internet Society of China, said earlier.
Nobuyku Idei, the former CEO of the Japanese IT giant Sony Corp, said IPv4 formed a community mainly made up of personal computers. IPv6, in contrast, will be connected to far more smartphones, tablet PCs and similar advanced devices.
Analysts believe the sooner a transition to IPv6 is made, the better. Websites should embark on the transition and the government should give them support, said Wu Hequan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
"It is a good chance to improve our Internet and increase China's influence around the world," said Liu Dong, president of the Chinese IPv6 information technology provider BII Group.
The company had once been called the Beijing Internet Institute and was established in 1995 with the support of the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Feng Jun, chairman of Aigo Digital Technology Co Ltd, said there will be demand in the near future to make all sorts of devices connect with each other.
"Most of Aigo's products will become IPV6-based products by the end of this year," he said.
China's top industry regulator has urged China's three telecommunications carriers to speed up the development of the country's broadband Internet network. China is expected to be home to 20 million new broadband Internet subscribers this year and 250 million subscribers by the end of 2015, according to a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology statement this past month.