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High-speed Internet to be rolled out nationwide
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China announced yesterday it will build its first high-capacity optic-fibre network nationwide, which will be able to carry Internet, TV and phone services all on one network.

The Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television on building the national network.

The backbone of the new network will have a bandwidth of 1,000 gigabits, compared with the current network's 1 gigabit capacity. It will allow every user in the network to have 100 megabit-a-second access to the Internet rather than the existing 1-megabit access, said a ministry press release.

With such a bandwidth, the network can provide a package of Internet, TV and phone services, instead of services through separated networks.

A regional network has been built in the Yangtze River Delta and was tested for a year from December 2006, covering about 30,000 users.

"The lab tests and trial run showed the network and related software were stable enough for commercial operation," said a ministry official who refused to be named.

But the nationwide program is still in a very early stage. The agreement mentioned neither the timetable of construction nor the cost.

"Although the new network has a high capacity, whether it is able to provide a package service will depend on telecom companies," the official said.

Insiders said the SARFT was interested in the new network as the existing copper-cable network for TV programs needed updating, but Internet and telecom firms might not want to invest in a new network.

(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2008)

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