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China set to expand fiber optic network

By Max Burkhalter
March 7, 2011
China Telecom, a state-owned telecommunications company, recently announced plans to triple the number of customers with access to its fiber optic broadband services by the end of 2011.

According to a recent report, the company plans to expand its fiber optic network to all of China's cities, replacing existing copper-wire networks. Currently, many residents of Chinese cities are only able to access internet at a speed of 2 megabytes, the report said. Under the proposed network upgrade, this will increase to 100MB.

By the end of 2011, China Telecom hopes its fiber optic services will reach approximately 30 million Chinese citizens. By the end of 2015, the company plans to expand its user base to more than 100 million people.

The initiative is part of the Chinese government's 12th Five-Year Plan, which places a strong emphasis on the development of the country's telecommunications infrastructure. According to the report, the plan calls for the investment of approximately $303 billion in infrastructure.

According to Hu Shan, an official of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, part of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, broadband internet will account for approximately 80 percent of the planned infrastructure expenditure.

Wang Xiaochu, chairman and CEO of China Telecom, said the company intended for its initiative to bring internet access to people who previously had none.

"Only 23 percent of Chinese families have internet access now, so China still has huge potential in this industry," he said. According to Wang, China Telecom "will follow government policies to improve infrastructure and cooperate with local governments to integrate China's tri-networks."

According to, China had approximately 126 million broadband internet users at the end of 2010. Sales in the telecommunications industry increased by 6.4 percent year-on-year, according to the report, reaching an overall value of $136 billion.

China Telecom also claimed the price of access to fiber optic internet will decrease in the coming years. According to the Chinese government, broadband prices already decreased by approximately 40 percent from 2006 to 2010.

China's Five-Year Plans are initiatives that involve a series of economic development projects. The first was introduced by Mao Zedong in 1953. In addition to the broadband initiative, the 12th Five-Year Plan includes programs directed toward environmental protection, acceleration of the country's process of economic reform and fostering of Hong Kong's role as an international financial center.


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