China Unicom to upgrade broadband speeds in Beijing

Chinese telco to phase out lower speed packages with faster connections of least 4Mbps starting Friday, in response to government's goal of having 75 percent of broadband users on that speed this year.

China Unicom has announced it will starting raising broadband speeds in Beijing starting from May 17, 2013, by phasing out its low-end packages.

TechWeb reported on Thursday, the Beijing subsidiary of the Chinese telecom has launched a scheme which increases speeds and make 4 Mbps the slowest connection in the city. However, it has not announced similar initiatives in other Chinese cities.

According to China Unicom, Beijing users with a 512 kbps or 1 Mbps connection speed will be raised to 4 Mbps, users with 2 Mbps connection will be raised to 10 Mbps while users with 4 or 8 Mbps will be raised to 20 Mbps.

Fiber-optic customers also may be able to get speeds of up to 100 Mbps, while the package with the lowest speed of 512 kbps--currently 12 percent of users--will be halted by the end of this year.

The move is in response to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's goal of having 75 percent of Chinese broadband users on 4 Mbps or higher connections starting this year , an increase from its goal of 50 percent in 2012, the report noted.

A report by Qihoo 360 last month found China's national average bandwitdh to be 3.14 Mbps. Beijing's average Internet bandwidth was only ranked fifth in the whole of China at 3.5 Mbps, behind Shanghai and Taiwan at 4.7 Mbps, Macau at 4.32 Mbps and Jiangsu at 3.93 Mbps, a separate report by China Daily noted.

A Qihoo report finds Beijing ranks fifth in the average Internet bandwidth ranking in China (Source: China Daily)