City puts up Internet challenge to rivals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2000, 12:00am

Shanghai should complete a State Council mandated project to link its telecommunications, cable and data networks by the end of this year, according to a senior municipal official.

Huang Qifan, chairman of Shanghai's economic commission, said the city would build the basic backbone of its Information Port project by the end of the year, providing wide-band connection to 50 per cent of city homes, with fibre optics serving 95 per cent of the city's high rise apartments and smaller residential zones.

Once completed, residents would be able to use the telephone, watch television or log on to the Internet at home, he said.

The Information Port construction started last month and when completed will increase international exit and entry bands to the Internet.

Mr Huang said linking the networks would conserve resources, while breaking the infrastructure monopolies of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and State Administration of Film, Radio and Television.

'In foreign companies, networks are infrastructure. Any company can use the network,' he said.

The Information Port project was designed to break the monopoly and force the MII and cable stations to hand over their networks to residents, service media and information service stations, he said.

'Then the network can be used for television programmes, data transfer computer information and telephone,' he added.

Mr Huang said the project would increase Internet use among city residents. He estimated Shanghai's Internet users would reach two million by the end of the year, up from one million at the end of last year.

He said Shanghai's information industry manufacturing capability, forecast to account for 100 billion yuan (about HK$93 billion) in output this year, would soon surpass Shenzhen's and Beijing's Zhongguancun area.

'The city is emphasising manufacture of five or six products,' he said. They included programme controlled switchboards, light fibre and cable products, electronic goods, and computer hardware and software.

'We lag behind Shenzhen in computer hardware output for the time being . . . But things will change over one to three years,' he said. 'In software, we lag behind Zhongguancun, but Shanghai is also making adjustments.'