RealTime IT News

China's Internet: Growing Demand But High Prices, Poor Service

Although there is great demand for the Internet in China, many Chinese find access to the Internet to be expensive, connection times slow, and information useless, according to two different surveys.

China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China's version of the U.S. domain registry InterNIC, has determined that the number of Chinese users has reached 2.1 million, increasing 30 percent from 1997 figures.

Mao Wei, CNNIC's director general, told the Beijing China Daily, "the growth momentum of Internet users is encouraging but services can hardly meet their demands."

A survey of Internet users conducted by the center showed that 74 percent of users felt that connection fees were too high, 49 percent said that there was insufficient information concerning China, and 70 percent favored visiting foreign Web sites.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, reported that in another study carried out by the China Computer Association (CCA), 31.5 percent of people surveyed felt that the high cost of access prevented them from getting online.

The association's poll also determined that 24.6 percent of the respondents indicated that the connection speeds were too slow and that 21.6 percent complained there was little useful information on the Web.

Both CCA and CNNIC attribute the difficulties to China Telecom's monopoly over access.

For ISPs in China, the cost of leasing lines from China Telecom is on average 80 percent of their overhead where outside of China the average is about 5.6 percent, preventing them from offering better services, reported the China Daily.

However, it is widely known that the Chinese Government plans to break up the national telecom into four different operators.

"This is good news for the domestic ISP's since the restructuring of China Telecom means the line rent will be cut by a large margin," Mao told the China Daily.