Updated at 3.38pm. Thursday:
Beijing has indicated that it may consider opening up the broadband-based cable TV network to data services, China News Service reported on Wednesday.
The move is seen as part of its efforts to encourage greater integration of the country's telecom, cable TV and the computer networks to speed up IT advancements. It is likely to break the mainland telecom operators' monopoly over data services and it could also allow telecom companies to reach the massive cable TV audiences countrywide.
The Communist Party's central committee has called for greater efforts to develop a highly sophisticated information technological platform based on the current telecom, cable TV and computer networks. The call was part of a proposal paper on the tenth Five-Year Plan of Economic and Social Development (2001-2005) released on Wednesday.
Current rules prevent broadband-based cable TV network from providing data services while mainland telecom service providers suffer constraints over bandwidth and data transmission speed.
Internet users on the mainland reached about 17 million by the end of June. In contrast the mainland's cable TV networks cover more than 100 million households and actual subscribers reached 80 million nationwide, according to statistics from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
High access costs and slow downloads are the main obstacles to the growth of user numbers.
If the three networks are able to share information it will dramatically reduce network-access expenses and boost the nation's information development.
The proposed Five-year Plan also called for more Internet-based training programs to boost the public computer knowledge.
The mainland should focus upon the development of super scale of integrated circuits (ICs), high performance computer systems, high speed Internet networks, new generation mobile networks and a digital TV system, according to the proposal paper.