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Telecom Vendor Pins Hope on Broadband
Alcatel Shanghai Bell is hoping the country's broadband boom might bail it out of a sluggish market.

The company, one of China's largest telecom equipment vendors, celebrated the production of its 1 millionth China-made asymmetric digital subscriber line board yesterday.

Only six months ago the company began producing the device which is used by telecom operators for broadband connection.

To date, it has exported 300,000 of the boards, better known as ADSL boards, to the United States.

Alcatel Shanghai Bell also plans to export to Europe as its French parent, Alcatel, is moving its manufacturing center to China.

The majority of ADSL equipment, to date, has been sold to domestic clients.

The firm claimed its 1.6 million ADSL installations have gained a 40 percent market share in China, double that of its closest competitor.

In the past year, the country has witnessed huge growth in the broadband connection market. Subscriptions for high-speed Internet service have soared to 6.6 million users by the end of last year from 2 million in the middle of 2002, according to China Internet Network Information Center.

"This is just the beginning. We are anticipating explosive growth in 2003," said Etienne Charlier, vice president of Alcatel Shanghai Bell. "Last year operators focused on whole coverage to generate enough cash to deploy new services."

Operators will further segment the market and launch more tailored services this year, she added.

Corporations, for example, can link their employees' homes with internal networks with broadband connection, while service providers can offer online multimedia content.

"We hope these services will hasten demand for our content management software and servers," Charlier said.

The broadband market is crucial for the company's financial performance. Last year China's fixed telecom investment dropped more than 30 percent from 2001.

(Shanghai Daily January 23, 2003)

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