China Telecom plans upgrade of network
Frederick Yeung in Beijing
China Telecom, the mainland's largest fixed-line operator, is planning an upgrade of its residential broadband access network to support transmission speeds of more than 20 megabits per second, sources said.
The upgrade will be completed by 2010 and is aimed at boosting fixed-line income from multimedia content. In order to meet its target, the company will increase existing bandwidths by between five and 10 times and aims to provide at least 80 per cent of households with a 20 megabit per second service in two years.
The bigger bandwidth planned by China Telecom for residential households will be able to support at least two internet protocol television service accounts, the delivery of high-definition television services, online video games and a voice over internet protocol service, according to Gao Chengjin, senior engineer at equipment vendor ZTE.
China Telecom originally offered its broadband internet service through its legacy network, based on mostly copper lines. These carry the broadband service using asymmetrical digital subscriber line technology.
In Hong Kong, fixed-line operator PCCW has upgraded its copper line network with an optical fibre network.
While the average bandwidth provided to each household is 6 to 8 megabits per second, several new buildings can be served with transmissions speeds of at least 18 megabits per second.
New fixed-line operators like Hong Kong Broadband Network and Hutchison Telecom already provide services to residential broadband users that offer transmission speeds of 10 megabits per second or higher.
To provide more multimedia applications to customers in order to expand its revenue sources, China Telecom is now improving its network by connecting buildings with optical fibres that will replace existing copper lines.
Some high-bandwidth customers may also be offered optical fibre connections for their home services, said Xu Ming, ZTE's general manager for fixed network products.
Last year China Telecom completed the replacement of copper lines with optical fibre cables to over five million households, Mr Xu said, and ZTE had won half the contracts.
'China Telecom now plans to double the number of households connected to its optical network this year,' he said.
The key to delivering a high-speed broadband service to a customer is the distance of the user to the nearest network control hub; the further this distance, the slower the broadband speed, Mr Gao said.
'The average distance between users and the network hub in the copper line network was 2.6 kilometres. With the deployment of the new optical network infrastructure, that distance can be narrowed to between 500 metres and 1 km, which could help boost the data rate to the users' end,' he said.