After China’s Premier Li Keqiang criticised the country’s mobile internet for being expensive and slow, the telecoms regulator has pledged to push industry players to reduce costs and improve speeds.
“A lot of people ask where they can find Wi-Fi, because our traffic charges are too high,” Li told an audience of entrepreneurs and economists earlier in the week, Beijing News reported.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), responding to the Premier’s call to conduct a study on how to bring down fees, said it was committed to working with the operators as they build out the 4G networks to ensure they provide fast network speeds at a competitive price, the China Daily reported.
NetEast chairman Ding Lei echoed Li’s complaint, noting in his speech that the Chinese economy requires a group of blue-collar workers with professional skills who need to take advantage of the mobile internet. “However, we now have expensive traffic charges – around CNY70 ($11) for 1GB – which I think might be an obstacle,” Ding said.
Li made a similar statement about the network speed problem more than a month ago at a National Committee meeting.
Telecoms researcher Xiang Ligang, however, told the China Daily that average mobile connection speeds in large and medium-sized cities are no slower than in the US and Western Europe. He pointed out that slow 4G services in small towns and rural areas have dragged down the country’s overall speed.
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.
And while China ranked 86th on ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) in 2013, analysts note that ICT access has just a 40 per cent weighting. ICT use accounts for 40 per cent and ICT skills 20 per cent.
The country’s three mobile operators had an estimated 155 million 4G connections at the end of Q1, according to GSMA Intelligence. China Mobile, which has over a million 4G base stations, accounts for 135 million of those and expects to have 250 million by the end of the year.