China has new national broadband plan, goals

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

I signed up for broadband and all I got was this little red book.

China wants to lead the broadband world in something other than malicious Internet attacks, 42% of which originate there, putting it comfortably ahead of the U.S., at second place with 10%. So China’s State Council – the equivalent of its cabinet – is setting a target of 50% national wireline broadband availability by 2015. By 2020, the goal is to connect the entire country – all 1.3 billion people or so – with a minimum of 20 Mbps in urban areas and 4 Mbps in rural areas, and top speeds of 100 Mbps.

It has a long way to go. Akamai estimates that the average Internet subscriber in China gets about 1.8 Mbps, which ranks it 91st in the world, and the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, says that “less than 14 percent of the Chinese population has access to broadband services”.

The preferred method of boosting national broadband speeds and availability is building fiber optic networks, although wireless will also play a big part, particularly mobile technology in rural areas and WiFi in cities.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government set a fiber to the home goal of 40 million households by 2015. It aims to reach it by the simple strategy of mandating that fiber be installed to all new homes that are near enough to middle mile facilities. With a building boom that has no end in sight, that’s an easy way to add millions of new FTTH connections.

Although the relationship between government and industry is often murky, the Chinese state has considerable power to command. “The strategy is led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and operated by the telecom carriers”, Xinhua reported.