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Global Forum sees information technology driving recovery and boosting democracy

Jay Gillette | Oct. 28, 2009
China's telecommunications and Internet growth is the continuing phenomenon of the era.

It is fitting that Romania is hosting the Global Forum this year, Gitenstein said, since ICT has been a major driver of economic development in the country. ICT here produces annual business revenues of 6.5 billion euros [$9.77 billion], and 8 per cent of GDP. ICT employs 50,000 workers, and the nation ranks third in global outsourcing services.

In other news, China's telecommunications and Internet growth is the continuing phenomenon of the era. According to the official Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China's total population is 1.328 billion people, (54 per cent in rural areas). China's combined fixed and mobile telephone subscribers now number 1.03 billion with 700 million mobile subscribers among them.

As of June 2009, Internet subscribers total 338 million, larger than the entire population of the United States. Of these, in August 2009, broadband users topped 97 million. The majority access the Internet through xDSL, accounting for 82 per cent of the users.

Under the heading "Broadband as a driving force of the transformation of the economy and society of China," MIIT provided these statistics for the number of "Netizens" using each of these most popular Internet applications:


• SNS [Social Networking Sites]*, 300 million (*registration accounts)

• Online music, 289 million

• Internet news, 266 million

• Instant message, 244 million

• Search engine, 235 million

• Online video, 222 million

• Online gaming 217 million

• Email, 187 million

• Blog, 182 million

• BBS, 103 million

• Online shopping, 88 million

Xiaohui Yu of the MIIT indicated that "sales of e-commerce reached RMB 3.1 trillion [$454 billion], 9.7 per cent of the total retail turnover; the scale of B2C broke hundred billion RMB [$14 billion]." Regarding e-government, he noted 100 per cent of the branches of the central government, 100 per cent of the province governments, 98.5 per cent of the cities, [and] more than 95 per cent of the county have portal Web sites" at this point for government services to Internet users.

Presenters from the China Academy of Telecommunications Research claimed net neutrality is not as pressing an issue in China as in the United States, but there have been a few recent cases where net neutrality policy would apply. For example, in 2008 a south China operator blocked or slowed traffic from competitor BT. There was another, compulsory tying case in 2007, where third-party advertisements were inserted without the agreement of users. Additionally, operators have introduced tiered services, with fast lane access to some subscribers who pay a premium for it.

The conference was held in the monumental People's Palace, the parliament building constructed by the Ceausescu government the second largest office building in the world after the U.S.'s Pentagon. Memorably evoked by Herta Müller, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Ceausescu regime was notorious for repression and the use of extensive information apparatus for persecution of the population.

 

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