China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will require that “all newly built residences, if they are located in counties and cities where a public fiber optic telecom network is available, have to be equipped with fiber network connections,” according to the state-run China Daily.
Cyrus Farivar of arstechnica.com reported Thursday that “China hopes to have 40 million families on fiber by 2015—albeit a tiny fraction of China’s 1.35 billion.”
Klint Finley of wired.com commented Friday, “The cost of deploying fiber networks is driven in large part by the ‘last mile’ phase — the process of actually connecting homes and businesses to the fiber network. China’s policy puts the onus on builders to deal with the last mile.”
Finley cites home a salient point made recently by Ansboury, founder and president of upstart U.S. broadband provider Gigabit Squared “In other countries, broadband is driven by government investment and regulation, while in the U.S. it’s driven by the needs of investors at entrenched companies.
Already China has more Internet users that the entire population of the U.S., according to research by the government-sanctioned China Internet Network Information Center. As of the end of June 2009, there were 338 million Internet users in China, 13.4 percent more than at the end of 2008, and well ahead of the official U.S. population – 307 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rates of Internet penetration in China remain comparatively low however, averaging 25.5 percent compared to over 70 percent in the United States.
Charles Arthur of guardian.co.uk reports that mobile phone access to the Internet also is growing dramatically in China. Chinese use of the Internet by mobile phone has reached 155 million people during 2009.
According to Arthur, “Rural users tend to be last in line for high-speed Internet access via fixed lines because it is expensive to install the lines themselves, and enabling the phone exchanges for broadband is pricey. By comparison, mobile phone masts can cover a huge geographic area comparatively cheaply, and although their connection speed will be low, it can be applied almost immediately. … That may be the shape of the future connectivity in China, rather than broader use of expensive computers.”