Govt to increase broadband availability

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Government ministries are stepping up the pace of working out details of the "Broadband China" project, which is due to be submitted to the State Council later this month, according to officials from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The project, which was selected as a national strategy by the State Council on May 9, means that China has got a development plan for its broadband network at the national level.

The ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission and nine other ministries have been discussing specific aspects of the "Broadband China" project since February, according to Zhang Feng, head of the telecommunication development department of the MIIT.

Zhang made the remarks at the 2012 Broadband Communications and Machine-to-Machine Summit held in Beijing on Thursday.

The "Broadband China" project aims to realize fiber optic communication in urban areas and improve the availability of broadband services in rural areas.

It will speed up the pace of deploying the next generation of the Internet in China and will focus on researching and developing relevant fields such as critical chipsets, software and system industries.

In addition, the project plans to step up promoting the convergence of cable television, telecommunications, and the Internet, Zhang said.

China is already picking up the pace in developing broadband, as the country hopes to deliver fiber optic communication to a further 35 million households this year. Meanwhile, China aims to have more than 50 percent of its broadband users enjoying a connection speed at 4Mbps or faster this year.

"China is embracing a new round of investment (in its telecom sector)," Shang Bing, vice-minister of the MIIT, said at a conference in Jinan, Shandong province, last week. Chinese telecom operators are expected to invest 370 billion yuan ($58 billion) in broadband construction this year, an increase of 10 percent year-on-year.

The number of broadband users in China reached 159 million, or 11.7 percent in terms of the penetration rate, by April, according to the MIIT. Though the number of China's broadband users increased at an accelerated pace, China's broadband penetration rate is still far behind that of some developed economies.

The average broadband penetration rate of developed economies was 25.7 percent last year.

More than 110 countries worldwide have adopted national broadband policies, according to Ao Li, an official from the China Academy of Telecom Technology.

In its latest national broadband plan, the United States invested $7.2 billion in upgrading infrastructure, especially in remote areas. The Australian government has invested A$43 billion ($41.8 billion) in building up its National Broadband Network.

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