By Han Xin
Under a program launched in 2015 that aims to increase broadband speed and lower rates for Internet services, China has built the world’s largest broadband network infrastructure, and ensured the same broadband access and speed in rural areas as those in urban areas, said an official with the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
Meanwhile, China has reduced the average rates of fixed broadband per unit of bandwidth and mobile broadband per unit of traffic by over 95 percent, according to Liu Liehong, vice minister of the MIIT.
China has seen a significant rise in the network speed for users. The proportion of fiber optic Internet users in all users of fixed broadband in China has risen from 56 percent at the end of 2015 to 94 percent. More than 120 million households in China have been connected to 1,000M fiber optic network.
In terms of mobile network, China’s 4G base stations constitute over half of the world’s total. Besides, the country has built 792,000 5G base stations, with the number of mobile terminals connected to the 5G network reaching 260 million. In addition, China has managed to cover all prefecture-level cities with 5G standalone (SA) network and made initial achievements in building the world’s largest 5G mobile network.
Over the past five years, China’s various measures adopted to cut the rates of fixed broadband per unit of bandwidth and mobile broadband per unit of traffic have benefited more than one billion users annually, and saved users a total of over 700 billion yuan ($107.9 billion).
Such measures have made various Internet applications increasingly popular, and stimulated Chinese people’s potential for information consumption.
The average monthly Internet traffic of mobile Internet users has jumped more than 40 times to 10.85 GB from 205 MB in early 2015.
China has also evidently narrowed the digital gap between the rural and urban areas by quickening the pace to tackle the weak links in rural network infrastructure.
So far, more than 99 percent of the administrative villages in China have gained access to fiber optic and 4G networks.
China intends to lower the average rates of broadband and dedicated Internet access services for small and medium-sized enterprises by another 10 percent, and step up the development of the 5G network and 1,000M fiber optic network and extend their application to more settings, according to the country’s 2021 Report on the Work of the Government issued in March.
This year, China will shift its focus from broadening the coverage of networks to increasing the speed and improving the quality of broadband, and make the measures to lower rates for Internet services more targeted at certain groups of people, Liu noted.
The country will upgrade and renovate 1,000M fiber optic network in households on a larger scale, and advance the on-demand construction and further coverage of 5G network in an orderly manner.
It will also support the construction of 10,000 4G base stations in rural and remote areas, and ensure that all administrative villages in China will be granted access to broadband networks by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, China plans to roll out specific measures for lowering rates for Internet services directed at key groups, including small and medium-sized enterprises, once impoverished rural residents, as well as the elderly and disabled.
For example, it has reduced the charges for products that integrate cloud platform, network and applications for companies to lessen their costs of using Internet and cloud platforms, and offered a 50-percent discount on basic communication services for rural households that have just shaken off poverty.