China plans to invest two trillion yuan (HK$2.53 trillion) to improve its broadband infrastructure by 2020 with the aim of taking nearly the entire population online, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Information and Industry said yesterday. The government is trying to improve fixed-line and wireless connectivity throughout the country, home to the largest number of mobile-phone users in the world but where only 45 per cent of the population has internet access. "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 said in an interview published on official website www.gov.cn Shang said the government aimed to boost the average broadband speed in mainland cities to 20 megabits per second by 2015 - which is less than what internet users in Hong Kong and Singapore now enjoy. In rural areas, where internet penetration is very low, broadband speeds would hit 4 Mbps by that year, he said. Beijing's broadband strategy would ensure that the number of 3G and LTE users would increase to 1.2 billion by 2020, four times the present 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 Centre. The massive investment in broadband could benefit global network equipment makers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent and home-grown players like Huawei Technologies and ZTE. Three firms operate broadband services on the mainland - China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.