Steps will boost Internet speed, cut costs

Updated: 2015-05-14 07:45

By Zhao Shengnan(China Daily)

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Long-awaited measures to create a faster, cheaper Internet network have been unveiled by the State Council.

Telecom companies will be encouraged to increase average broadband connection speeds by at least 40 percent in urban areas.

Wednesday's executive meeting of the State Council also addressed a controversial issue by urging companies to roll over the value of unused data in fixed price plans to the next period or allow customers to transfer unused data to others.

The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, said optical fiber and fourth-generation telecom networks should be laid more quickly, and it set a goal of achieving investment worth more than 1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in the Internet this year.

An open market, fair competition and more financial support will help to upgrade broadband services in rural areas. The meeting decided to narrow the digital gap between urban and rural areas by increasing financial support for the improvement of facilities in the countryside. In addition, 14,000 more villages will be connected to the Internet.

The government has made no secret of the increasing emphasis it places on the Internet industry as a means of revitalizing growth and improving people's livelihoods. However, there have been many complaints about Internet services being too expensive and cumbersome, with uneven quality in urban and rural areas. The country was ranked 82nd globally in terms of average connection speed at the end of last year, according to Internet service provider Akamai Technologies.

Wen Weiping, a researcher from the School of Software and Microelectronics at Peking University, said most startups are in the Internet industry. The cost of subscribing to Internet services usually amounts to tens of thousands of yuan annually and is a burden on fledgling companies.

Xiang Ligang, a telecom researcher and founder of the industry website, said the goal of increasing speed and lowering costs will not be difficult to achieve if the number of people using the Internet increases.

This will drive large-scale investment ranging from hardware manufacturing to infrastructure construction, Xiang added.

Gao Yuan contributed to this story.