2001 China Data Forum

  Scholars urged the country to better exploit its huge cable network to build a cheaper yet more efficient online "information home" for its people.

  Jointly held by the China Radio and Television Society and Tsinghua Yongxin Information Technology Company, the forum focused on the application of digital technology.

  Hu Dongcheng, vice-president of Tsinghua University, said cable television stations will become the leading provider of long-distance education in the future.

He remarked that, Tsinghua University will soon grant the country's first Masters degrees using this method of teaching.

  In a recent experiment conducted by the university in Qingdao, Shandong Province, cable users with computers only needed to pay about 40 yuan (US$4.80) for the month to receive distance education from the university and read Internet magazines compiled by the local cable television station.

  While the Internet is playing an ever more important role in people's lives, Internet surfers are suffering from online traffic jams that have the gloomy prospect of becoming graver unless the band can be effectively broadened. But broadening the band means tremendous investments as well as time for patience.

  Over 1,500 officials in radio and television, science and education as well as renowned domestic and foreign information technology providers, attended the one-day discussion, which was held in March 20.

  Expert said, China already has the world's largest cable user population, and the country vowed in its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) to further expand the number of users.

  By the year 2005, 40 per cent of the country's households, roughly 150 million, should be connected to the cable network.

  The five-year plan also stipulates that the cable network must be integrated with the other two major networks, the telecoms and the Internet, to construct a cheaper yet more efficient information highway affordable to more Chinese people.

  More than 250 local cable television stations are developing systems to provide their users with more news, entertainment programs and educational features and people believed that the cable network still has a great deal of spare capacity that needs to be better exploited.


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