China's Internet service providers more than doubled their bandwidth connection to places outside the mainland to 5,724 megabits per second by the end of September. This was in anticipation of stronger demands for Internet services on the mainland. According to a study on the mainland by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), released on Monday, connections with the United States account for 70 per cent of China's total capacity in external or international connections. The CNNIC has conducted surveys twice a year since 1997. Because of tough market access restrictions, the mainland's Internet market is also immensely lucrative. A study of 21 mainland-based Internet service providers, which included China Telecom, China Netcom, and Tom.com, showed that most only had permission to develop domestic networks and had to connect themselves to the state-owned network if they wanted international access. There are seven mainland Internet carriers with international connections, but China Telecom is clearly in a dominant position, with an 80-per-cent share of the country's international data capacity. However, it is likely to come up against fierce competition from China Netcom, which bought four gigabits per second (Gbps) in data capacity from Asia Global Crossing in September to connect Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Asia Global Crossings is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.