China’s State Council, the country’s cabinet, said the government will spend CNY1.13 trillion ($182 billion) over the next three years to improve broadband access and increase speeds as the nation pushes towards a more service-based economy to fuel growth.
The government has committed to investing CNY430 billion on fibre optic broadband and high speed 4G mobile network infrastructure this year and CNY700 billion over the next two years, Reuters said.
A month ago China’s Premier Li Keqiang complained that China’s broadband speed was ranked only 80th globally. According to Akamai Technologies, China’s average internet connection speed was 3.4Mb/s last year, putting it 82nd globally. The average internet connection speed globally was 4.5Mb/s.
Analysts have argued that average mobile connection speeds in large and medium-sized Chinese cities are no slower than in the US and Western Europe, but slow 4G services in small towns and rural areas have dragged down the country’s overall speed.
In an effort to revitalise its slowing economy, China yesterday unveiled a vision for the next stage of economic growth, Reuters said. As it attempts to move away from low-tech manufacturing, Li noted that a robust internet is vital to helping drive the shift to a service-based economy.
China’s three mobile operators committed last week to reducing data prices by 20-40 per cent, as well as improving network speeds, following political pressure from the country’s leadership.
The State Council, following up on Li’s comments, called on operators to boost internet speeds by 40 per cent, expand broadband access in rural areas and cut prices by the end of the year.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also said last week it will allow private firms to invest to upgrade existing infrastructure and strengthen the co-construction and sharing of network facilities. The idea is that a more open market with fair competition will attract private ISPs, which will be able to upgrade rural areas.