Mainland CT2 market to explode

CHINA will become one of the biggest users of advanced telecommunications technology in the world during the next 10 years.

According to Infa Telecom's assistant general manager of their China Division, Benny Wong, ''China will be the greatest CT2 telephone market in the world.'' In addition to ''overall infrastructural enhancements'', Mr Wong believed, ''great growth'', will be experienced in peripheral telecommunications sectors, such as mobile phones and pagers.

In particular, he cited how the CT2 cordless telephone had experienced huge growth in China though it had failed in Europe.

Hutchison Whampoa's Rabbit network, is one such CT2 system, failed in Britain.

CT2 is a public cordless telephone system, which customers use via bases in the street.

Despite the failure in Europe, 12 contracts have been signed in China by operators for CT2 systems during the past 12 months.

Infa Telecom will be supplying 35 per cent of these operators with handsets and Mr Wong said he was confident of another 15 contracts being signed by operators to set up systems in China during the next year. There are three systems operating in Hong Kong.

ABC Communications deputy managing director Patricia Yeung believed China wants to develop intelligent networks.

She said: ''At the moment I don't see many factors which could hinder growth [of telecommunications] unless there are dramatic economic problems and I see that as unlikely.'' But Star Paging's general manager Alfred Shao said: ''The macro-economic control [in China] has had some effect on the telecom market because the consumption power of people was affected and so the pace of growth slowed down.'' Benny Wong believed several obstacles were in the way of development.

He said China must relax its policy on foreign investment, because the financial resources of the Chinese government would not be sufficient to meet its spending plans.

The Chinese government's spending on telecommunications has soared during its current five-year plan (1991 to 1995) to US$12.5 billion from the US$2.8 billion it spent during the 1986 to 1990 five-year plan.

Much of the investment is being channelled into modern telephone exchange equipment and into digital microwave and optical fibre circuits.

The Chinese Government is attempting to increase the number of telephone lines per head of the population fivefold, from the current two lines per one hundred people to 10 lines per one hundred people by 2000.

But Benny Wong said: ''Most of the technology and equipment is imported. China could not afford to keep importing, it needs to produce its own [telecommunications technology and equipment].'' There appears to be general agreement among foreign telecommunications companies the conservatism of the Chinese Government is the main obstacle to their greater involvement in developing telecommunications.

But the role of China's telecom giant the Ministry for Post and Telecommunications as a service provider is being challenged, particularly in the mobile phone, public switched services and wireless communications sectors.