Beijing has unveiled the list of 12 areas that will take part in network integration trials involving cable television, internet and telecommunications services. A State Council statement on the central government's website said the first batch of trial areas had been approved on Wednesday. Twenty-five regions had applied to take part. The areas selected were Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, Harbin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Mianyang, and the area around the cities of Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan in the east of Hunan province. When the network integration trials are up and running, people in newer apartments will need only one cable connection to make telephone calls, surf the internet and watch television. Digital, high-resolution and interactive television programmes and other services will be available on one TV screen, including shopping, payment services and making internet protocol telephone calls. One industry insider said it was no surprise to see Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, on the list, but the same could not be said for Mianyang, in Sichuan province, and the three cities in Hunan. 'I didn't expect these cities to be on the list because of their infrastructure conditions,' said Wu Chunyong, editor-in-chief of the radio and TV news website Sarft.net. 'They made it because the local governments made great efforts in the hope of driving their local economies.' He said the cities in Hunan were probably chosen because the province is a leader in the production of popular TV shows. Former Yahoo China president Xie Wen said Mianyang was selected because it was home to the headquarters of Sichuan Changhong Group, which makes set-top boxes for internet protocol television. It is the only city on the list in western China. 'The west has a comparatively low level of technology,' Xie said. 'The selected areas are those that have done pretty well in upgrading platforms needed for the merging. 'Usually the trial cities for such projects are provincial capitals, not municipalities or Beijing.' He said the trials would probably be accompanied by subsidies, loans and tax cuts, and that was why local governments were keen to take part. 'The key to attracting more investment is whether the integration plan will be included in the 12th five-year plan for 2011 to 2015,' Xie said. Wu said the trials would boost regional economies, and companies making TV sets, set-top boxes and related equipment. The Economic Observer quoted Wu Hequan, from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as saying that network integration would attract nearly 700 billion yuan (HK$802 billion) in investment and consumer spending. The State Council statement gave no details about the timetable for the trials or regulations to be applied. Network integration will be a two-phase process: 2010-12 for constructing internet protocol TV service platforms by telecommunications and TV/radio providers; and 2013-15 for the promotion and expansion of the services to more provinces.