China plans to invest 2 trillion yuan (US$323 billion) to improve its broadband infrastructure by 2020 with the aim of taking the nearly entire population online, a vice-minister said on Wednesday.
The government is trying to improve fixed-line and wireless connectivity throughout China, home to the largest number of mobile phone users in the world despite only 45 per cent of the population have access to the internet.
China’s investment in broadband could benefit global network equipment makers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, as well as home-grown players like Huawei Technologies and ZTE.
“Our 3G network has to cover cities and villages and, at the same time, we have to put 4G into wide commercial use,” Shang Bing, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Information and Industry, said in an interview published on official website www.gov.cn.
Shang said the government aimed to boost the average broadband speed in China’s cities to 20 megabits per second by 2015, which is less than what internet users in Hong Kong and Singapore currently enjoy.
In rural China, where internet penetration is very low, broadband speeds would hit 4 megabits per second by 2015, he said.
China’s broadband strategy will ensure that the number of 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) users will increase to 1.2 billion by 2020, four times of the current figure, Shang said.
The government aims to increase the number of broadband users by 25 million and fibre optic internet users by 35 million this year, according to the state-run China Internet Network Information Center.
Three companies currently operate all of China’s broadband services: China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.