China’s internet speed and broadband charges have long been drawing Chinese netizens’ concerns. Recently, one of China’s telecom experts claimed that China’s internet speed is above average with low charges. Such a claim was questioned by most netizens. According to some analysis report which had issued last year, with income gap adjusted, China’s broadband has charged 124 times more then South Korea, but provides unsatisfactory network speeds. China has been putting huge investment into almost every aspect of its economy, yet one crucial area in which China has been lagging behind is the internet network.
A few months ago, a U.S. network data transmission company has released the global ranking of countries’ Internet speeds. According to the report, South Korea is something of a “speed demon” with an average speed of 2,202 Kbps (Kilobits per second). Conversely, even though China has the most internet users of any country, it is still “lagging” behind when it comes to Internet speed. China’s average speed of 245 Kbps is only 1/9th of South Korea’s speed, and is also far below the worldwide average of 580 Kbps. The slow Internet speed in China is due to its vast territory as well as its lack of effective competition in the industry, i.e. China’s Internet access market is currently monopolised by a handful of major operators who have failed to construct and upgrade the country network. By introducing fiber-optic technology, the internet speed in China will be greatly improved. But the major problem with China’s Internet is the low speed of international bandwidth.
Many Chinese netizens believed that the Great Firewall of China has caused slow internet connection speed. For people who are out of China and who did not have the “fortune” to experience the Great Firewall of China, it is difficult to describe the frustration one experiences from not being able to surf the web properly, and the situation has gotten much worse recently. A foreign software engineer explain that China’s GFW is not used for direct hijack, but through interferences and wiretapping to achieve its aims. Technically, GFW does not have a direct impact, but indirectly, it could cause a slow internet connection speed. The Great Firewall of China is merely an expression that describes how the China Internet system works. As for the network charges, it contains various taxes and fees levied by the government authorities, which contribute to higher charges for using the internet, compare to other foreign countries.
It is hard to estimate the cost of the slow internet connection to China’s economy. An investment banker who cannot send an e-mail to his client or a supplier who cannot reach his buyers are a few examples of potential money loss that occurs on a daily basis. China Internet business will constantly need to deal with internet speed problems, a situation which is a loss for China and for the world. A huge population with fast internet connection speed will help drive innovation and will put China on the map as one of the most attractive business locations in the world. China must provide with faster and freer internet connection, making easier for people in China to engage in global business and to connect with the rest of the world.
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