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China improves telecommunications services, helps boost digital economy

Source: People's Daily Online Updated: 2020-10-20

China has greatly improved its telecommunications services during the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period, contributing to the robust development of the digital economy.

Under the plan, by 2020, fixed broadband networks in China will connect 70 percent of all households and 85 percent of the population will use mobile broadband services.


Liang Junjian, a teacher with the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, teaches online on Feb. 17, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

This target was met ahead of schedule and surpassed thanks to the continuous improvement of internet infrastructure, technical innovation and services, as well as competition between market players.

During the COVID-19 epidemic control period, hundreds of millions of students took online classes in China, which was a culmination of the continuous improvement of the country's network infrastructure and technical capabilities.

For villagers in the mountainous Maping village, located at an elevation of 1,100 meters in Xiangyang, central China's Hubei province, weak network signals became a thing of the past after the Spring Festival holiday.

To ensure that students were able to attend online courses amid the epidemic, China Unicom, one of the country's largest telecom operators, sent a team to manually bring equipment and other materials to build a new base station after the holiday. The team completed the construction of the base station in just four days.

China has built the world's largest optical fiber and mobile communication network. More than 93 percent of internet users are fiber broadband subscribers, and those using 4G make up 80 percent of all mobile phone users.

More than 98 percent of administrative villages have access to fiber optic cables and 4G services, significantly narrowing the urban-rural digital gap.

As of June, the number of internet users in China had reached 940 million and online shoppers had hit 749 million, resulting in a huge digital consumer market. In 2019, online retail sales in the country stood at 10.6 trillion yuan, up 16.5 percent year on year.

By the end of September, over 130 million 5G terminals had been connected to the 5G network in China. The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry is advancing steadily, with over 70 industrial internet platforms that provide services for more than 400,000 industrial enterprises.

If it had not been for the leapfrog development of network construction in recent years, tens of millions of enterprises and government-affiliated institutions would not have been able to conveniently handle businesses online, people would not have been able to easily work at home via the internet, and hundreds of millions of students would not have been able to continue attending classes online without encountering problems, said Wen Ku, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.